NAYPYIDAW — The deputy minister for electricity and energy has explained the Union government’s approval of a proposal to spend 30 billion kyats (US$22 million) from the presidential reserve funds to fulfill Rangoon’s electricity demand this summer.
The Union government has approved the Rangoon divisional government’s proposal to buy a 25-megawatt generator that can be operated with diesel or natural gas and moved with a trailer, according to deputy minister Dr. Tun Naing.
He added that Rangoon consumed more than 40 percent of the country’s total daily production of electricity¬–about 1,200 megawatts¬¬–and the purchase was necessary to meet the growing demand of Burma’s commercial capital. However, lawmakers will have the final say on the proposal when it is debated in Parliament.
Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker U Thein Tun of Irrawaddy’s Kungyangon Township said 30 billion kyats was a large sum to take from the presidential reserve funds, adding that many rural areas still have to generate their own electricity.
“The presidential reserve funds should be used for natural disasters. None of the other states and divisions ask for this huge amount of money, only Rangoon,” U Thein Tun told The Irrawaddy.
About 10 villages in his constituency can generate their own electricity, he says, but except for granting permission to do so, the government has not helped bring electricity to these rural areas.
National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker U Myo Zaw Oo of Naypyidaw’s Lewe Township has defended the plan, saying the NLD government was also taking appropriate measures to provide electricity in ethnic regions.
“Rangoon is a commercial hub and has industrial zones. I see no reason to object to the proposal because the electricity demand is so high there,” he said.
The Ministry of Electricity and Energy put forward a figure of nearly 4.5 trillion kyats, more than 21.5 percent of its total nationwide budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Parliament is still discussing the budget draft law.
Two electricity suppliers, including a 300-meter power barge from Turkey, were set to provide Rangoon this summer with 300 megawatts each totaling 600 megawatts daily for the city. Earlier this month, however, the ministry said it had no budget for the suppliers.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.