President’s Office to grant ministry land to Shwedagon developers

The President’s Office will grant ministry-owned land in Yangon to five companies, as compensation for cancelling their projects beside Shwedagon Pagoda earlier this year, a senior official said.

The five large developments were to be built on Ministry of Defence land beside Myanmar’s most famous religious site, but were called off permanently in July, following widespread criticism.

Civil society groups and outspoken individuals had said they feared new high-rise buildings would spoil the view and impact the foundations of the pagoda – a concern which the companies have refuted.

Director of the President’s Office U Zaw Htay told The Myanmar Times ministry-owned land would be granted to all five companies, allowing them to re-start their developments.

“We are planning to provide replacement land for the companies whose projects were cancelled,” he said. “The new land is owned by several ministries.”

He declined to give further details. A Myanmar Investment Commission director said negotiations between ministries and the President’s Office are ongoing. MIC was responsible for halting the projects, under the direction of President U Thein Sein.

MIC director Daw Mya Sandar said the companies have not yet been told about the replacement land. “After the negotiations are complete, they will need to apply to us for permission to re-start the projects,” she said.

A local journal reported last week that the President’s Office planned to offer the companies a total of 33 acres of land across three separate sites in Yangon, and that companies had asked the ministries to lower the rental price.

According to Tomorrow Journal, Hong Kong-based Marga Landmark will be offered 17 acres of land owned by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road – formerly home to the Department of Geological Survey.

Eliott Suen, director at Marga Group told The Myanmar Times that negotiations about the compensation scheme are still underway. The company has not received any official notice on the matter, he said.

Tomorrow Journal also reported that Adventure Myanmar Travels and Tours, and a company named Olympic will be granted 11 acres of Ministry of Commerce-owned land on the corner of Khaye Pin and Min Ye Kyaw Swar streets, and that Shwe Taung Group will be granted Ministry of Railways-owned land.

Adventure Myanmar and Olympic could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Shwe Taung said the company is still discussing the relocation with the relevant authorities. “Nothing is confirmed yet,” she said.

She clarified that the Olympic named in the local journal is not Olympic Construction owned by Shwe Taung chair U Aik Htun.

A spokesperson for Thukha Yadanar, which was building a project called Dagon City 2, told The Myanmar Times they have heard they will be granted replacement land owned by the Ministry of Commerce, but has not yet received official communication. The company is also a minority partner in Marga Group’s Dagon City 1.

“We have heard the President’s Office is negotiating with the ministry, but that they haven’t reached a final decision. We don’t know how big the land will be, but we heard it will be smaller than the land we were renting to build our project near to Shwedagon,” the spokesperson said.

The company has no plans to argue with the government about the replacement plan, he said, and will take what it is given, with a view to building the project as quickly as possible.

Thu Kha Yadanar sold a number of units off-plan before the cancellation earlier this year, and wants to keep its customers happy, he added.

A Marga spokesperson previously told The Myanmar Times the company is preparing a settlement scheme for those who had bought units in the cancelled project.

“Existing customers can transfer their reservations and enjoy first choice of units at our new location at a good discount along with attractive bonuses,” they said.

“For those who prefer a refund of their deposits, we will immediately process that as soon as we receive our compensation from the government, and perform a full independent audit of our case.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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