Power to Myanmar: Legal Concerns


The Myanmar government has recently released a draft Electricity Law intended to replace the Electricity Law of 1984, which does not provide a solid basis for development of a much-needed modern power infrastructure, in Myanmar.

Nearly one-fifth of electrical power is lost before it reaches consumers because of ageing infrastructure, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), who announced it will lend Myanmar USD60million to improve the electricity distribution system in Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway regions.

The new Electricity Law, in keeping with the objectives of the ADB grant, engages with a number of areas of concern.

The first step in that direction is the creation of a new electricity regulatory commission, with a set of defined policies such as compiling a national electricity policy, to fix modern and systematic electric power rates and to advise relevant ministries to systematically develop electricity-related work.

With the intent to increase foreign investments, the draft law lays emphasis on the introduction of Independent Power Projects and small-scale projects, in the regions of Myanmar.

However, the law provides limited guidance on the rights and duties of the electricity licence holder and is silent on the responsibilities of public institutions, the licensing and approval process for investments in the sector, principles and procedures in tariff setting and dispute resolution.

The draft law is a welcome start in the push toward a modern power grid underlined by effective rules and regulation.