The Irrawaddy

Union Govt Demands Former Magwe Division Govt Return Missing Development Funds

Small-scale oil production sites in Magwe Divison. (Photo: J Paing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Magwe Division chief minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo threatened legal action against his predecessor if missing regional development funds collected in taxes from small-scale oil producers under the previous government were not returned.

The Union government instructed the previous divisional government led by U Phone Maw Shwe to return over 3 billion kyats including over 1.7 billion kyats allegedly spent on the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

Lower House lawmaker U Tun Tun of Magwe’s Pwintbyu Township asked Parliament in May 2016 about the alleged embezzlement of regional development funds by the previous Magwe Division government.

The Bureau of Special Investigations under the Ministry of Home Affairs launched an investigation and found that missing funds amounted to 7.5 billion kyats. The investigation’s findings were submitted to the President’s Office earlier this month.

“The Union government has instructed the missing funds be returned. If they don’t comply, we will take legal action as instructed [by the Union government],” Dr. Aung Moe Nyo told The Irrawaddy.

The Union government sent letters dated April 18 to former Magwe Division chief minister U Phone Maw Shwe and chairman of the Magwe Division Development Foundation and Shwe Thukha Microcredit Association U Nyi Tun asking them to answer for the missing funds.

The letter instructed the two to return 1.7 billion kyats, four cars, a digger, and two boats donated to the USDP through the Magwe Division Development Foundation, as well as over 1.5 billion kyats of funds transferred to the microcredit association.

Lawmaker U Tun Tun said the previous divisional government also needed to provide detailed accounts of its so-called development expenditure of over 4.1 billion kyats from divisional development funds.

“Public funds should only be used for the welfare of the public. It is against the laws of the Union Election Commission to spend [public funds] on a particular party,” said U Tun Tun.

“Though it can’t be called bribery, it is surely misappropriation,” he said.

The current government of Magwe Division also levied a tax on small-scale crude oil producers—3,000 kyats per barrel of crude oil—since June 2 last year, and recorded a taxation of over 1.2 billion kyats until April.

It also recorded an increase of over 1.9 billion kyats in revenues from municipal licensing fees in the 2016-17 fiscal year compared to the previous fiscal year.

The Magwe Division government met to discuss the missing funds on Tuesday.