RANGOON — Burma’s outgoing government has put 68 controversial projects on hold, the information ministry announced on Friday, the same day as Lower House MPs voted to approve a motion calling for greater scrutiny of the sale of state properties and other assets during the transition period.
The suspended projects include a coal-fired power plant in Tenasserim Division’s Myeik Township, a hazardous chemical treatment plant in Rangoon Division’s Hmawbi Township and a special economic zone planned for Shan State.
Other projects include unfinished buildings and factories contracted to private firms, sites reportedly linked to allegations of land grabbing, and issues over “build-operate-transfer” agreements.
The Ministry of Information’s announcement was issued shortly after lawmakers in the Lower House of Parliament on Friday discussed and approved a proposal tabled by the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s Khin San Hlaing urging authorities to review permissions to sell or lease state-owned factories, facilities and projects before a new government takes power on April 1.
The proposal also included for discussion the plight of squatters after large-scale evictions were carried out in Rangoon last month.
Thein Nyunt, a former Lower House lawmaker and chairman of the New National Democracy Party, said there are many projects that government ministries signed off on for the private sector without any transparency.
“We called for the Dagon City project to be stopped, but there are still many small projects that each ministry has agreed to without publicizing any of them,” Thein Nyunt said, referring to the planned development that was cancelled by the government in July last year after a public outcry over its proximity to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
“The outgoing government should openly provide information on these projects to the new government so that it can consider how best to solve any problems,” Thein Nyunt said.
Maung Maung Lay, vice chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the administration of President Thein Sein should attend to issues over controversial projects before its term ends.
“If not, there will be more problems if the new government pulls out from these controversial projects,” he said.
“This is a good time for the current government to say what it’s done in the past, to let all of the people know.”