Rangoon Govt to Shake Up Manufacturing, Electricity Sectors

By The Irrawaddy 27 May 2016

RANGOON — Rangoon’s divisional government will confiscate unused land in the city’s industrial zones and revoke permits from private electricity providers in breach of their contracts, said regional Electricity, Industry and Transportation Minister Nilar Kyaw, of upcoming reforms during a parliamentary session this week.

The minister announced on Thursday her intent to continue with the former government’s land confiscation plan in Rangoon’s industrial zones.

In 2014, the previous government issued an order stating that it would confiscate any inactive land in an industrial zone within six months. Later, it conducted a survey and found more than 4,000 unutilized acres on over 2,000 plots. The government then announced that it would confiscate the land in February 2015, but the warning does not appear to have resulted in land seizures in the months since.

Tint Lwin, lawmaker from Pazundaung Township, said that speculators had bought land in Rangoon’s 29 industrial zones intending to rent or sell it, but not to open factories or workshops. As a result, land prices have risen, deterring foreign investment and hindering the efforts of those who want to develop operations in the region, which is the heart of most of the country’s manufacturing industries.

Nilar Kyaw said the divisional government formed a survey team last week to assess the situation in nine of the zones and would take further action once the findings were submitted.

The minister said the government was also looking into private companies that were hired by the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) to distribute power to local townships.

In response to a question about widespread recent blackouts in the commercial capital, Nilar Kyaw said some private electricity companies had breached their contracts and provided weak service. She would not list which companies were negligent, but said the ministry would revoke their permits if they were found to be at fault.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Rangoon accounted for more than half of the country’s total electricity consumption, and still required some 15 percent more power generation to meet demand.