NAYPYITAW—The Union Parliament on Thursday voted down the government’s proposal to receive loans worth 70 million euros ($79.3 million) from the French Development Agency (AFD).
Just 34 votes were in favor of the proposal and 497 against, with six abstentions despite the deputy minister for planning and finance attempting to convince lawmakers that the project would ultimately benefit Yangon residents and saying that the government has already spent almost two years preparing the project.
The loans, according to the Yangon Region government, was to be used to upgrade parks and markets, build car parking facilities, develop riverfront areas, conserve cultural heritage sites and dredge the Nga Moe Yeik Creek, an undeveloped waterway in Yangon that the regional government believes could be used for public transport.
With the interest rate being low and the country getting 32 years before having to repay the debt, the loan seems to be attractive, but lawmakers have opposed the proposal because the Yangon regional government could not clarify details of how funds from the loan would be used, said Lower House lawmaker Daw Khin San Hlaing.
Lawmakers have complained that the Yangon regional government failed to provide in its proposal details about the breakdown of the budget and timeframe to be applied to each project, or their advantages.
“We need to be very careful about loans. We already have been bearing the heavy burden of debt. Some of the projects were successful, but many projects barely had an impact in spite of large sums of money spent on them,” said Daw Khin San Hlaing.
“We turned it down because [the Yangon regional government] could not present the precise data and information requested by the Parliament,” said another lawmaker Daw Yin Min Hlaing.
Lawmakers were critical of the five-year project (2019-2023) since the deputy minister for planning and finance gave details about what was to be called the Transport, Waterways and Urban Heritage Project in November.
Yangon Region lawmaker U Khin Maung Maung of the ruling National League for Democracy then complained that Yangon doesn’t even have enough street lights and that roads are potholed and become flooded when the rains come due to a failing drainage system.
As a result, the plan was shelved. Later, the Yangon Region government discussed the plans with the Joint Public Accounts Committee of the Union Parliament, which also endorsed the suspension.