The Irrawaddy

No Need to Approve Yangon Expansion Plan Again, Chief Minister Says

YANGON — Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said his government would not submit the new Yangon city project to the regional Parliament because it was already approved during the preceding administration of President U Thein Sein.

“Regarding the site for the project, even the land confiscation orders for the project were issued by the previous government. And the current Parliament has to implement what was approved by the previous Parliament,” the chief minister told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of an investment forum in Yangon.

“Local people in the area are quite poor and their agricultural production is quite low. Parliament approved the project after a Kyimyindaing [Township] lawmaker submitted the proposal again,” he added.

In August 2014, then-Yangon Region Chief Minister U Myint Swe announced plans to expand the city by some 30,000 acres westward. The proposal was later shelved after allegations by lawmakers that the owner of the Myanmar Saytanar Myothit company, which won the original bid, had close ties to the chief minister.

The following year, Yangon Mayor U Hla Myint presented plans to Parliament to develop seven new satellite towns — including the new city — covering some 30,000 acres in Kyimyindaing, Seikgyikanaungto and Twante townships on the west side of the Yangon River.

The plan was approved and put out to tender, and in January 2016 three companies were selected to implement a smaller version of the new city project. But after the National League for Democracy took office in early 2016, the new Yangon government cancelled the contracts.

In April, the Yangon government formed the New Yangon Development Co. Ltd. (NYDC) to develop the new city project, which it said would create over two million jobs. The NYDC is fully owned by the regional government.

“We lawmakers have suggested that this project should be reviewed,” U Kyaw Zeya, a lawmaker representing Dagon Township, told The Irrawaddy.

“It is true that the previous regional Parliament had approved it. But if the regional government continues with the project, a confrontation is likely between us and them,” he said. “Though it has been approved by the previous Parliament, procedures have changed. So there is a need to approve it again. If not, we would have to ask legally.”

He said the project should be discussed in Parliament again because it would be implemented through a public-private partnership and with loans from the World Bank.

The $1.5 billion project will include two bridges linking five townships, a main road stretching 26 km, an industrial zone covering 10 square km, a power plant and power stations, and water and sewage treatment plants, according to the Yangon Region government.

U Phyo Min Thein said profits from investment projects in the new city would also be used to improve services in the older parts of Yangon.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.