NLD Cabinet Members Forego Naypyidaw Land Plots

By Htet Naing Zaw 11 January 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Cabinet members appointed by the National League for Democracy (NLD) as well as President U Htin Kyaw and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have not applied for land plots in the administrative capital, a member of the Naypyidaw Development Council told The Irrawaddy.

“The State Counselor has instructed cabinet members not to enjoy rights and entitlements while land confiscation problems still cannot be solved. No NLD leader has applied for a land plot [in Naypyidaw],” said U Min Thu.

Housing such as Raja Theingaha Housing 1 and 2 were constructed in Naypyidaw under the previous government to accommodate ministers, deputy ministers and directors-general of successive governments.

In addition, the previous government granted land plots measuring 120 square feet to high-ranking officials at special prices, and some individual high-ranking officials own dozens of these plots. In 2016, there was controversy surrounding private land in Naypyidaw held by former president U Thein Sein.

The NLD government is more interested in developing housing for the homeless and the have-nots rather than granting land to high-ranking officials, said U Min Thu.

“We’ll provide apartments for civil servants working in Naypyidaw when they retire. We are developing affordable housing in Shwe Nantha [in Naypyidaw] for them,” U Min Thu told The Irrawaddy.

Daw Sandar Khin, who served as the deputy minister for culture under the previous government, said they had to pay market prices for the government-funded houses.

“We had to pay according to [the size and structure of] the housing. I wish there had been [government-funded] housing for retired civil servants. But this has only happened now and I welcome it. This will serve as an incentive for civil servants,” she said.

The Ministry of Construction and the Naypyidaw Development Council have been working together to meet the requirement of about 10,000 civil servant retirement apartments.

The NLD-led government recognizes Naypyidaw as the administrative capital, which was built with a military perspective under a military regime; and it is taking steps to design an urban development plan, said U Min Thu.

“We will take systematic measures to transform the town into one that is environmentally-friendly. There are more than 25,000 acres of confiscated land and more than 30,000 acres of forested area in Naypyidaw. Only about 5,000 acres have been used to build the town,” he said.

A committee has been formed to implement the urban development project, he said, adding that unnecessary expenditures of the Naypyidaw Development Council have been cut.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.