The Irrawaddy

Rangoon Chief Minister Defends Budget Allocations

Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein at a press conference in the commercial capital. (Chan Son / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON – U Phyo Min Thein defended regional budget allocations at a press conference in Rangoon on Friday, stating that providing funds for agriculture on land slated to be developed later in a city expansion project would be a misuse of the budget.

Outspoken lawmaker Daw Sandar Min on Thursday criticized budget allocations for 44 townships, stating that developed townships received more money than less developed ones, including her constituency of Seik Kyi Kha Naungtoe.

She said the regional government had allocated 8 billion kyats (US$6 million) for agricultural development of 4,000 acres, but that U Phyo Min Thein received 42 percent of the total budget for Rangoon, while seven townships on the outskirts that have rice paddy fields and could use the money for agriculture received little.

The chief minister said the plan to develop industrialized farming in Rangoon was not his personal choice or that of the regional government, but that budget recommendations had been systematically made with the help of economic experts, members of the business community and lawmakers.

The agricultural minister said some townships were favored for agricultural development because of their location, such as Hlegu, which is situated alongside a river.

“Our policy gave preference to places where fresh water could be accessed,” said U Phyo Min Thein.

U Phyo Min Thein estimated that 200,000 acres to be used for industrial agricultural in Rangoon need to be developed.