Hydropower megaproject still under analysis, says Myanmar Investment Commission

The 1,360-megawatt Hatgyi hydropower project – a joint venture between the local IGE Company and Chinese companies – is not yet officially permitted, and the case is still being studied, said Aung Naing Oo, the secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) at a press conference on December 2.

“The Hatgyi hydropower project has not been submitted to MIC. We haven’t permitted it yet. I think it’s still under observation,” he said.

Since 2010, Myanmar has experienced an influx of foreign investment. The total foreign direct investment (FDI) during the 2010-11 fiscal year was US$4.6 billion, and investment in the Chi Phwe Nge hydropower project alone made up $4.3 billion, showing that the investment in the other sectors amounted to a mere $300 million.

Total FDI amounted to $1.4 billion in the 2012-13 fiscal year and $4.1 billion the following year.

The current fiscal year has already seen $4.19 billion in FDI since April, according to the MIC.

Some projects do not apply for MIC approval. In these cases, project developers do not enjoy privileges such as tax breaks, but most investors in natural resources follow this course anyway.

“Before 2011, most investors coming into Myanmar focused on natural resources. But other sectors have become more attractive since 2012, particularly industry, hospitality and tourism and telecoms,” the secretary explained.

IGE Co is permitted to implement eight projects aside from the Hatgyi dam in partnership with Chinese companies, including giant hydropower projects like the 7,000 MW Mongton dam on the upper Thanlwin River and the 1,200 MW Naungpha dam.

The Mongton project is the second collaboration between IGE and a Chinese company on the Thanlwin River. It is a partnership between IGE and the Chinese government’s Three Gorges Corporation, which is responsible for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam – the world’s largest dam.

The first project is the upstream Thanlwin (Kwunlon) Project, which is under construction by the Asia World Co and China’s Hanergy Group Holding Ltd. The contract was signed in the third week of May this year.

Experts advise that Myanmar should not rely on hydropower and that projects generating 2,000 MW and above are not appropriate for the country.


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