Yangon high-rise review divides officials


The chair of Yangon Region parliament’s economic committee has spoken out in support of developers, after they were ordered by a separate committee to change their project designs as part of a city-wide review of high-rises under construction.

Daw Sandar Min, who heads the regional Finance, Planning and Economic Committee, said developers had suffered “enormous losses” because of the review, which aimed to ensure that all projects approved by the former government were in line with draft zoning plans.

She accused her colleagues in the region government of jeopardizing economic growth and putting thousands of labourers out of work, after they suspended construction at all projects with nine floors or more.

“Our committee will watch this review closely because of the enormous losses to our economy,” she told The Myanmar Times. “Workers on a daily wage are suffering every day that this suspension continues and I would like to remind regional officials to take this into account.”

After receiving complaints from developers who had been told to alter their project designs, her committee carried out its own inspection of 12 projects, and found that they were not breaking any rules, she said.

She has submitted their findings to the Yangon Region government and expects a response within three days.

Earlier this month, the High-rise Inspection Committee found that all 12 projects violated draft urban plans, and told developers to reduce the number of floors, add more car parking space or resubmit their designs for approval. All the projects had been approved by the former government.

Developers asked to reduce the scale of their projects complained to Daw Sandar Min’s committee, she said. “They asked us to review their projects again, so we went to the sites. We have reported our findings – we don’t think the government should ask companies to knock down floors that have already been built. We are waiting for a reply to our letter.”

Her committee has also asked the Yangon government to lift its ban on construction as soon as possible. “If the regional government does not respond soon, we will take the issue to the hluttaw [Union parliament] and at that time Yangon Region government will need to respond,” she said.

A National League for Democracy MP who is also developing a high-rise project told The Myanmar Times she also planned to raise the issue in the Union parliament if it could not be solved at the regional level.

“The government should enact new laws, but it should also listen to the public voice, and needs to give everybody some time to adjust to new policies,” she said, asking to remain anonymous.

A second round of 28 inspection results has not yet been made public after it was submitted to Yangon Region government last week. In total, 185 projects under construction or at the planning stage have been suspended.

U Ye Min Oo said the government would pass the results to Yangon City Development Committee, which would inform developers. “Our committee just makes suggestions, which are sent to Yangon Region government for final approval, then sent on to YCDC,” he said.

Meanwhile, commentators have defended the review, arguing that it is critical at this stage for the government to reassess all projects.

“This move by the NLD is a positive one, to achieve sustainable long-term development,” said Daw Marlar Tun of the non-profit Singapore Myanmar Exchange. “Contrary to comments by business owners, a period of planning forward will impact positively on enterprise, both in the near and long term. The new government has a legacy of challenges to unfold and undo. Given their magnitude, it is understandable that all projects may not be allowed to happen at once.”

She said the government should outline a clear vision, before planning and executing priority projects. “A city cannot have a thriving business environment without a defined methodology for infrastructure development, nor can it sustain itself in the absence of preparedness,” she said.

Others agreed the review is positive in the long term, but said it should be handled as efficiently as possible.

Cyrus Pun, head of real estate for developer Yoma Strategic, said he believes this is a positive well-intentioned step to ensure that construction is line with the city’s planning requirements.

“At the same time, it is important that these planning requirements are made publicly accessible and the review process is conducted swiftly and transparently,” he said.

For Tony Picon, managing director of Colliers International Myanmar, compensation is important.

“If projects now in the process of construction or in the approval phase may blight the urban landscape for generations then it would be appropriate to adjust the number of levels or design,” he said. “However if these projects have been approved legally then some form of compensation should be considered.”

Delays may create confusion and lack of confidence in the short term, he said, “[but] I believe a clear plan for the future of the city that will enable it to be the pride of its residents is more important even if this takes time.”


Source: The Myanmar Times

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