Myanmar Junta Approves 15 Investments, Including US$2.5-Billion Power Project

By The Irrawaddy 8 May 2021

The regime-controlled Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has approved 15 projects including a US$2.5-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) power project, which would be the biggest single investment since the military takeover on Feb. 1.

The MIC chaired by Lieutenant-General Moe Myint Tun did not reveal details of the project in its press release. However, the LNG project approved on Friday is likely to be the Chinese-backed Mee Lin Gyaing power project in the country’s Irrawaddy Delta, given the nature and estimated cost of the project.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Myanmar in 2020, Beijing and the National League for Democracy (NLD) government—since ousted by the coup—signed a letter of intent to speed up implementation of the project under the countries’ Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement.

At the time of the coup, the Mee Lin Gyaing project was one of two LNG projects awaiting official approval. The other is worth $2 billion.

The 1,390 MW Mee Lin Gyaing project is to be developed jointly by Yunnan Provincial Energy Investment Group Co. Ltd., UREC, Zhefu Holding Group Co. Ltd. and Supreme Group. The project is expected to be complete in 2023; 35 percent of the power produced will be distributed to Ayeyarwady Region, with the rest going to Yangon via the national grid.

Officials close to the matter said “it’s likely” that the Mee Lin Gyaing LNG project was among those approved on Friday but refused to comment further.

Supreme Group deputy chief executive officer U Htu Htu Aung told The Irrawaddy that the joint venture company has been awaiting approval for the Mee Lin Gyaing project. However, the company has not yet received notification from the MIC.

When The Irrawaddy asked whether implementation of the project could be delayed due to the effects of the coup, U Htu Htu Aung said, “As we are a local company, we could not say something like that. It would depend on the main foreign investors.”

The MIC said 100 percent of the electricity from the most recently approval LNG projects would be sold domestically, adding that it is expected to support the goal of supplying 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from the national grid by 2030.

The MIC said that it has also approved new projects for livestock, manufacturing and other sectors, and increases in the capital of two existing projects.

The World Bank’s latest forecast reveals that Myanmar’s economy is in dire jeopardy and is projected to contract by 10 percent this year due to the impact of the military takeover. Recently, the United Nations Development Program warned that all financial reports since the coup indicated Myanmar is approaching economic collapse.

Company registration figures from DICA revealed that the number of new registered companies declined nearly 87 percent following the coup compared with the same period last year.

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