Rangoon Govt to Seize 80% of Idle Industrial Zones

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 18 December 2014

RANGOON — Rangoon’s Industrial Zones Management Committee has received business proposals for only about 20 percent of the idle land holdings in divisional industrial zones by a government-imposed deadline this week, according to Myat Thin Aung, chairman of the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone.

The divisional Industrial Zones Management Committee, under Rangoon’s Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development, announced late last month that the owners of idle industrial plots would be required to submit business plans by Dec. 15.

As of Monday, the management committee had received about 700 proposals among some 2,400 vacant plots and 1,000 warehouses that currently sit idle, Myat Thin Aung told The Irrawaddy.

“After receiving these business proposals, the committee will report to Vice President Nyan Tun. The amount of proposals is very low compared with the total number of idle plots in zones in Yangon,” he said.

After the deadline passed on Monday, industry sources said some warehouse owners made an appeal to the government, requesting that they be allowed to continue holding the land despite the absence of a business plan. The appellants rent to other businesses, who use the warehouses to store beans and pulses, rice and other imported and exported agricultural products.

“Some people thought that they would profit [through speculation] even they don’t have any business plan on what to do on these plots. That is why they invested. Others have operated businesses at a loss and so have stopped,” he said.

The Industrial Zones Management Committee will evaluate the business proposals’ viability beginning early next year.

“Among all these idle plots, the rest of the plots [that haven’t submitted business plans] will be withdrawn by the government, but they will receive land prices set by the government,” Myat Thin Aung said.

The divisional government would fix land prices at about 12 million kyats (US$12,000) per acre, he said, but rates would vary depending on the location.

“The committee, after taking these plots, will auction them later. Most of the plots are in Shwe Pyitha, Thardu Lake, South Dagon, East Dagon and Dagon Seikkan industrial zones,” he said.

Aye Lwin, a businessman in the timber industry who operates in the Dagon Seikkan industrial zone, said he welcomed the plan to take back idle industrial landholdings, but urged the government to back its words with action.

“It should have happened six years ago, when I was working as Thaketa industrial zone chairman. I suggested to the government to take action on these kind of idle plot owners, but they did nothing,” he said.

“There are still people who are playing the industrial land market, including some of Yangon’s well-known industrial zones’ committee chairmen,” he said.

“So the government needs to take action on this issue effectively. There should be a specific policy on it,” he added. “You can see that there are only 700 proposals that the zones’ management committee received. That means the rest of the people are trying to play the market.”

Among Rangoon’s industrial zones, the most expensive lands are currently in Hlaing Tharyar Township, where a one-acre plot can sell for as high as 800 million kyats. In Shwe Pyithar, East Dagon, South Dagon and Dagon Seikkan townships, prices are averaging 300 million to 400 million kyats per acre.