NLD reps propose suspension, review of Parkway hospital project

A parliamentary committee has recommended the incoming Yangon Region government suspend two approved projects on state land, including a US$70 million private hospital development.

U Kyaw Zeya, secretary of the Yangon Region Finance, Planning and Economic Committee, said the projects should be halted immediately and reviewed by the parliament and government once the new administration, headed by chief minister U Phyo Min Thein, takes office.

Both projects were approved following tenders conducted by the outgoing Yangon Region government, led by U Myint Swe. Over the past five years, his regional government was regularly criticised for its perceived lack of transparency and close links to prominent businesspeople.

One of U Phyo Min Thein’s stated goals is to fight corruption, particularly in government decision-making on private sector projects. He has said he wants to make Yangon a “corruption-free business city”.

“We know that the outgoing government invited tenders for these projects and has already completed the tender process,” said U Kyaw Zeya, a National League for Democracy member who represents Dagon 2 constituency. “But our parliament and the coming government need to review these projects. That’s why we have recommended suspending them.”

The larger of the two projects is the 250-bed Parkway Yangon Hospital, which is to be implemented by Malaysian firm IHH Healthcare together with Myanmar partners. The private hospital is slate for public land near Yangon General Hospital, and has already been the subject of protests from medical professionals who say it should be used instead for a public facility.

On February 26, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar carried an article titled “Parkway plot not sold” in response to rumours that the government had sold the 4.4-acre site to “a foreign consortium”. The article said the land had been leased under a 50-year contract after which the hospital would revert to state ownership.

Representatives of investors in the Parkway project could not immediately be reached for comment.

U Kyaw Zeya said the “objections of doctors and people” needed to be taken into account.

The other project in the firing line is a Western Park restaurant to be built on 3 acres of land in People’s Park.

U Ko Ko Lin, head of the Playgrounds, Parks and Gardens Department at Yangon City Development Committee, defended the integrity of the decision to rent the land to Western Park, a well-known Chinese restaurant chain.

He said the department had previously rented the land to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and recently taken it back at the end of the contract. It decided to hold an auction after receiving many applications to rent the site.

“The auction process was carried out by an auction scrutiny committee from the Yangon Region government. Western Park won the auction but the project hasn’t started yet,” he said.

But parliamentarians have criticised the rent, which they say, at K450 million a year, is too low.

U Kyaw Zeya did not reveal the length of the contract.

Western Park Royal Group confirmed that they had won the tender but no operations had begun at the site.

“We don’t want to comment further about this project right now,” said a company spokesperson

Source: Myanmar Times

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