Bidders cry foul on Yangon Region government tender

Two unsuccessful bidders for a Yangon Region government tender have claimed the government decided on the winner before the selection process, and the chair of one of the firms intends to petition the new government.

Three companies applied for a tender called by Yangon Region government in early January to build a new industrial zone on vacant land owned by farmers beside a psychiatric hospital, between No2 Yangon-Mandalay Road and No7 Road in Htaung Ta Lote village, Malit village tract, East Dagon Township.

Excellent Fortune Construction Public Company, part of the Excellent Fortune Development Group, won the tender with a bid of K1.45 billion, according to U Kyaw Soe, head of the tender calling committee and Yangon Region government’s minister for forestry and energy.

National Development Company Group, chaired by U Khin Shwe, submitted a K20 billion bid. U Khin Shwe, who is also chair of Zaykabar and remains on the US Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals List, has been accused of benefiting from a close relationship with the government and obtaining land by dubious means.

Myanmar Automobile Development Public Company, headed by local entrepreneur U Soe Tun, also entered a bid, which was excluded on the basis that it was entered after the 9am deadline on March 22. The firm had already paid the K50, 000 fee for the tender application form and deposited the requisite K100 million with Myanma Economic Bank, said U Soe Tun.

He declined to say what his bid would have been.

Yangon Region government signed a contract with the victorious Excellent Fortune Construction on March 25, according to U Kyaw Soe. That firm then made a required K600 million payment to the state as part of the tender, and the first of what will be annual payments of K165 million – K300, 000 per-acre – for permission to develop the land, he told The Myanmar Times.

U Kyaw Soe said these per acre payments for land development were a common part of government tenders.

Zaykabar chair U Khin Shwe held a press conference at his office at Thuwunna junction on March 28, at which he complained that the tender had been awarded to the company making the lowest bid, that Excellent Fortune Construction’s winning bid had been much less than his company’s bid and that the tender selection process was complicated and unclear.

U Khin Shwe said he planned to complain to the new National League for Democracy-led administration.

U Soe Tun also complained about how his company was treated. Myanmar Automobile Development Public Company arrived to make its application at 9:05am on March 22 and was denied, he said. But the companies were to make their respective tender presentations to Yangon Region government at 10am that morning, which gave Yangon Region Government ample time to accept Myanmar Automobile Development Public Company’s application, U Soe Tun said.

Both U Soe Tun and U Khin Shwe said separately that Yangon Region government had already decided in advance that they would award Excellent Fortune Construction the tender.

U Kyaw Soe said there had been no such decision. The bid from U Khin Shwe’s National Development Company Group was rejected because that firm, as part of its application, had asked that the government transfer the 550 acres to National Development Company Group without the company having to purchase the land, said U Kyaw Soe.

Yangon Region government had explained as part of the tender that the winning company would have to purchase the land from the farmers that owned it, he said, adding that the government could not simply take land from people.

“If a democratic government takes land today it will be dismissed tomorrow,” he said. “This land is not owned by the government, but by the farmers.”

U Khin Shwe said he had assumed that the government owned the land because it was the government that was inviting bids for a tender to develop the plot.

“The government can’t invite a tender to develop an industrial zone on farmers’ land,” he said, adding that local companies could never typically get the authority to build an industrial zone on 550 acres of land in exchange for a payment of only K600 million.

U Aye Min, a member of the Myanmar Lawyers Association’s Central Executive Committee, said it was very unusual for the government to issue a tender to develop land that it did not own, and could not think of another case.

Farmers from Htaung Ta Lote village told The Myanmar Times that a company had already purchased the land through real estate brokers, and that the purchases began the week of March 21 – before the tender was awarded on March 25. They did not know the firm’s name, but said it had paid K27.5 million per acre. The deposit for the sale contract was set at K2.5 million, and the remainder will be paid across two instalments within a month, the farmers said.

“It has been almost  a week since they came with brokers to buy the land,” Ko Hla Win Naing from Htaung Ta Lote village told The Myanmar Times on March 26. “But I heard noone has been sent full payment. We don’t know what they want to buy it for, only that they are launching an industrial zone.”

Source: The Myanmar Times

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