Upper House Votes to Abolish MICA

By Htet Naing Zaw 8 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Parliament’s Upper House voted to abolish the Myanmar International Cooperation Agency (MICA) on Tuesday following allegations that the agency was thoroughly corrupt.

In December, Dr. Arkar Moe of Karen State accused the MICA board of directors of lining their own pockets, and he submitted a proposal to the Upper House that would abolish the agency.

During the Upper House session on Tuesday, 14 National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmakers debated in favor of abolishing MICA.
When put to a vote, 140 lawmakers voted in favor and 50 voted against eliminating the agency.

“MICA was formed with good intentions, but there were problems with the agency’s procedures,” said U Hla Kyaw, the deputy minister for Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation.

The President’s Office has been in agreement with eliminating MICA since the allegations of corruption were announced in December, he added.
But “I still don’t know the exact timeline for abolishment,” U Hla Kyaw told the reporters after the Upper House session.

The former Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development created MICA as a quasi-governmental agency in 2012. At the time, its stated aim was to promote the meat and fish industry and to improve domestic food sufficiency. MICA was supposed to coordinate with local and foreign companies to develop underutilized assets—mainly farms, fisheries, and plants.

U Soe Thane, a President’s Office official, served as MICA chairman under the previous government.

While it operated, MICA took control of about 60 factories and businesses and hundreds of acres of land. It then signed controversial land lease deals with the private sector and failed to publicize details.

Deputy minister U Hla Kyaw said that MICA would now be shut down, and the lands, farms and factories under its control would be handed back to the appropriate departments in line with procedures. The ministry will ask the Union Auditor-General’s office for help with auditing records and transparency.