Former Mandalay Chief Minister Refuses to Return ‘Misused’ Development Funds

By Zarni Mann 27 July 2018

Mandalay – The former chief minister of Mandalay said on Thursday that there was no need for development funds that the current regional government has claimed were used in an “unclear” manner to be returned.

The current regional government said in June that it found discrepancies regarding the use of Mandalay’s development fund under the previous regional administration.

U Ye Myint, the former chief minister, told a press conference in Mandalay that the development funds were donated voluntarily by tycoons and local businessmen and therefore did not need to be returned.

“That money absolutely does not belong to the regional government or to the central government. It is not from the state’s budget, so there is no need to hand it over to the government,” U Ye Myint said.

The former chief minister said the funds were transferred to the Yadanapon Foundation, which was formed in September 2017 under the patronage of former general U Hla Myint Swe. The foundation is still working on regional development projects under the guidance of U Hla Myint Swe.

He added that most of the funds had been audited and the audit statement handed over to the government.

“There’s nothing left to return. As the chief minister asked for an explanation of some of the expenditures, we did that and an audit statement was submitted,” U Ye Myint said.

He said that he had already sent an explanation about the use of the funds to President U Win Myint in May before the regional government held its press conference. However, he had received no reply from the President’s Office, he said.

“I also sent a letter to Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, yesterday (July 25), to clarify the discrepancies found in the audit,” U Ye Myint said.

“Because, the final audit of all the uses of the funds was already done, I don’t understand why there are discrepancies. Why don’t they check the responsible governmental office about it?” he added. “My conscience is very clear that I did nothing wrong.”

At the June press conference, which focused on the work done by the regional government in 2016 to 2017, the chief minister stated there were discrepancies relating to over 3 billion kyats from the regional development fund during the 2012 to 2016 budget years, during the term of U Ye Myint and his regional government team.

The chief minister told the journalists that there were differences and unclear statements regarding funds that were used in development sectors such as education, rural development, telecommunications and general rehabilitation.

Since January, the auditor’s general office in Naypyidaw reportedly said it had found fraud cases and was reviewing unlawful expenditures involving regional development funds in many states and divisions under the previous administration of President U Thein Sein.

In Irrawaddy Division, the Ayeyarwaddy Health and Education Multi-Developments Foundation, which was formed to deploy regional funds, is reportedly going to return 5.2 billion kyats to the government, following allegations of corruption and fraud.

The secretary of that foundation told The Irrawaddy on July 17 that it would return the funds after receiving notification from the regional government under the instruction of the President’s Office.

Meanwhile, in Sagaing Division, the prior regional government handed over 1.7 billion kyats of development funds early this year.