Audit Says Long-Term Land Leases Costing Yangon Coffers Dearly

By The Irrawaddy 3 October 2018

YANGON — The Yangon Auditor General’s report for 2016-17 shows that public spaces leased to private businesses under long-term contracts were costing the government billions of kyats.

The report says the city’s municipal body, the Yangon City Development Committee, has been leasing out parts of the city’s public parks since the previous administration using long-term contracts. In some case the prices were set as low as 32 kyats ($0.02) per square foot, far below the current average price of 1,000 kyats ($0.66), according to lawmakers.

In U Ottama Park, located by the foot of Shwedagon Pagoda’s southern stairwell, more than 180,000 square feet of land have been leased to five restaurants and an amusement park at 56.91 kyats per square foot.

National League for Democracy lawmaker U Zin Min Htwe told Parliament on Wednesday that, using the current average price of 1,000 kyats per square foot, the government has lost more than 2 billion kyats a year. He said if the money were managed properly, the government could put it to good use.

“There are more than 500 people living in the dark at night [in my constituency] because they live a few hundred feet away from a power line. It’s very sad for them,” he said.

The Auditor General’s report says more than 19 acres of land in Karaweik Park were leased to the Zay Kabar Company in 2010 for 30 years at 47.477 kyat per square foot, also far below the current average market price.

Zay Kabar, one of Myanmar’s largest construction companies, is run by tycoon U Khin Shwe. His daughter is married to the son of U Shwe Mann, the third most influential person in the former military regime and now an important ally of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

In another case, 76.36 acres of People’s Park, near the western stairwell of Shwedagon Pagoda, were leased to Natural World in 2014 at 32 kyat per square foot.