Anti-Corruption Commission Asked to Probe Kachin State Highway Project

By Zarni Mann 15 October 2018

MANDALAY—A lawyer from Myitkyina, Kachin State, filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Saturday asking it to investigate the regional government’s implementation of a highway improvement project.

U Tin Tun Thein told The Irrawaddy that the regional government failed to seek approval from the regional Parliament for the 11-billion-kyat project, claiming there is no record of it having called for bids to be tendered.

“I filed a complaint asking the ACC to investigate whether the 11 billion kyats were used in accordance with the law, and whether the government followed the proper tender procedure,” U Tin Tun Thein said.

“When the regional government creates a budget for a project like this, it must consult Parliament and abide by its decision. Under the law, it needs to initiate a call for bids. In this case, the regional government did not follow the above procedures and local residents are unsure where the money came from and how the construction will be handled,” he added.

The project was reportedly initiated by the regional government to upgrade a 23-mile-long section of the highway connecting Bhamo and Myitkyina in Moemauk Township. The project was awarded to the Power Five Star construction company.

“If the regional government has no respect for Parliament, it will be very difficult to establish rule of law in the region. Additionally, the budget for the project lacks transparency, which is why I filed a complaint to the ACC to investigate the regional government team [responsible],” he added.

The lawyer said the complaint was filed with the ACC online on Saturday. He said the committee acknowledged receipt of the complaint, adding that he will submit a hard copy of the complaint through the mail this week.

“The commission replied online that they received the complaint. But I don’t know how or when they will begin the investigation. I will send hard copies of the complaint and required evidence and supporting documents through the post,” he said.

Regional Planning and Finance Minister U Wai Lin told The Irrawaddy that the budget for the project was obtained during the September-October 2017 session of Parliament, in accordance with the law and parliamentary procedures.

“The budget and the project for the upgrade to that sector of road received parliamentary approval. The budget was transferred from other road improvement and expansion projects under the Road Transportation Department that could not be completed due to regional security issues and other reasons,” he said.

U Wai Lin said the ministry is using the budget in accordance with the law and that there had been no misuse or unauthorized use of funds.

“Since there are many rumors in the region concerning that project and the budget, the inspection team from Naypyitaw is here to check the quality of the road-improvement process. We have all the necessary documentation regarding the budget; anyone can check it at any time,” he said.