The Irrawaddy

Mandalay Chief Minister Investigates Use of Regional Development Funds

Press conference with members of the Mandalay regional government on Tuesday. (Photo: Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY– The Mandalay divisional government said on Tuesday that it is now looking into the use of regional development funds handed over by the previous administration.

“We are thoroughly checking and investigating the funds, in accordance with the instructions of the President’s Office,” said U Zaw Myint Maung, the Chief Minister of Mandalay Division, as he outlined the regional government’s work over the last year to the media.

As allegations have been reported concerning the misappropriation of regional development funds by the ex-cabinets of Irrawaddy and Magwe divisions, there has been particular interest in the status of the same funds in Mandalay Division, the biggest business hub in central Burma.

Mandalay’s ex-cabinet was widely criticized for allegations of corruption, embezzlement and for giving the go-ahead to several development and investment projects reportedly without assessing the various potential impacts of such initiatives.

The chief minister noted that he is leading the government’s investigative team, which includes experts and consultants, to reconsider the establishment of economic zones and development opportunities approved by the former administration.

“There are a number of business projects which we didn’t know about. In our investigation, we found out that those projects were permitted by the ex-cabinet without any measure of their environmental or socio-economic impacts,” he said.

The chief minister said Myo Thar Inland port and industrial park is also under government reconsideration as the contracts between the investor and the government come up for renewal.

“We are looking into this in detail and reconsidering every project. We will give permission if the projects fit well with our regional development [goals] and have little to no [negative] socio-economic or environmental impact. We will make an announcement once the investigations have been completed,” U Zaw Myint Maung said.

During the press conference on Tuesday, the regional minister of agriculture, livestock and irrigation, the minister of electricity, transport and communication, and the minister of security and border affairs also met with the media and spoke about their work over the past year.