MIC pushes through dozens of investment approvals

The commission, which answers directly to the President’s Office, meets several times a month to approve foreign, joint-venture and local investments. According to MIC information dating back to January 2015, the average number of investments approved at each meeting is just under 10. No more than 20 projects have been approved at any previous meeting.

Bucking the trend, MIC approved 48 new investments on March 25, according to a document published on the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration website. Asked about the unusually high number of approvals, a spokesperson directed requests to secretary U Aung Naing Oo, who was not available for comment yesterday.

Notably, the MIC has approved a number of major projects at Yangon’s ports. Kaung Myanmar Aung Shipping Company, owned by well-known tycoon U Khin Maung Aye, received consent to build a wharf and supporting facilities in Seikkan township after winning a government tender just over a week ago.

New Downtown Development Public has approval to build a shopping mall and office complex in the Myanma Port Authority-owned Nanthida compound and New Strand Development Company has permission to build commercial, office and retail space, hotels and serviced apartments at No.1 Ahlone International Port in Ahlone township.

Yangon Heritage Trust founder U Thant Myint-U said yesterday that his organisation hopes to see a gradual move of all port and industrial facilities from Yangon to Thilawa – located to the city’s southeast – and the remaking of the waterfront of public and recreational use.

“This would do so much toward making Yangon a healthier and happier city and a real international destination, adding potentially billions of dollars a year in revenue,” he said.

Several port-related investments have also been approved at Thilawa. Khaing Oo Company has been given the green light to build a jetty and buildings, and Myanmar Edible Oil Industrial Public Company is allowed to build and operate a multi-purpose international wharf in the Thilawa Port Area.

MIC also approved a number of hotels and resorts in its most recent meeting, including H&Co Platinum Pathein Company’s 15-acre project in Ayeyarwady Region comprising a hotel, shopping mall and villas.

Pongpipat Development, known for operating the Heinda tin mine in Tanintharyi Region, has been given permission to build a resort in Htee Khee village in Myitta, Dawei township, while a company called K Future secured approval to build a hotel on Bo Net Kyaw Island in Kawthoung district.

In Yangon, KT Development Company has approval to build a hotel, office space, retail, serviced apartments and other commercial businesses and long-term leasehold units on an 11.753-acre site in Yankin township.

New City Development Public, which also has links to tycoon U Khin Maung Aye, has approval to build a light industrial park in Yangon Region’s East Dagon township. Another of his companies, Kaytumadi Development Public, has approval to build two further industrial parks in Bago Region’s Taungoo.

Also in Bago, Hantharwady Development Public has approval to build an improbably large eco-resort and high-end housing project on 2455.77 acres, and Thiri Multi Agricultural Company has permission to build a hotel in Taungoo.

A number of roads were also approved, and more than a dozen manufacturing ventures. Three companies – Mya Kan Engineering, Htoo Naing Lin and Linn Shwe Sin Company – received a green light to produce and distribute crushed stones.

Sembcorp Myingyan Power Company has received the go-ahead to build a 225-megawatt gas-fired plant near Mandalay, which will eventually transmit more power to the national grid than any other independent gas-fired plant in the country.

Malaysian firm OCK Yangon has been approved to build telecoms infrastructure and Asian Blue Aviation to run an international air transport service. The company is a tie-up between Japan’s ANA Holdings and Shwe Than Lwin-owned Golden Sky World, and plans to offer services between Yangon and Tokyo.

MIC approval does not necessarily guarantee a project will go ahead, as Hong Kong-based developer Marga Landmark and a number of local companies discovered when their real estate projects beside Shwedagon Pagoda were cancelled by the President’s Office early last year.

Many of these projects will also require approvals from other government departments. Nevertheless, once approval has been granted it is difficult to undo.

U Han Thar Myint, who chaired the National League for Democracy’s economic committee until it was dissolved last week, said the incoming government had not been warned that such a large number of investments would be approved.

“Since respective ministerial offices do not have to inform us of their decisions, we had no knowledge of this. We cannot criticize or object to [the outgoing government] permitting a lot of new investments, or whatever the case is,” he said.

“Only after the new ministers have taken office can these things possibly be done.”

Last month the National League for Democracy called for an investigation into a wave of lucrative business deals that had seemingly been fast-tracked by officials in the outgoing government during the period between the election and the power transfer.

Military MPs reacted to the motion with disapproval, standing up in unison to demonstrate their objection. The debate infuriated the outgoing government and prompted presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut to suggest that it does not need to be accountable to parliament.

“Whether the incumbent Union government should be accountable to the second parliament or not is an issue to be reviewed according to the constitution,” he said, adding that the government had decided to “suspend” its cooperation with parliament on responding to questions and proposals.


Source: Myanmar Time

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