Myanmar to ditch June 18 solar tender deadline: sources

The Myanmar government is expected to extend a solar tender deadline by one month after telling investors last Friday (May 29) that it had no plans to do so.

In a June 2 email sent to potential bidders, Yangon-based law firm VDB-Loi said the Ministry of Electricity and Energy is in the final stages of approving an extension of the bid submission deadline.

“It is expected that the MOEE [energy ministry] will announce an official extension within the next day [June 3] from 18 June 2020 to 17 July 2020,” the email, which was seen by this newspaper, said.

The expected extension was confirmed by two industry sources, who declined to be named due to sensitivity of the matter.

There was no immediate statement by the government.

The reversal came after the ministry’s Electric Power Generation Enterprise (EPGE) wrote formally to bidders that it wasn’t considering an extension. The EPGE letter, dated May 29, was signed by its managing director U Than Naing Oo.

Investment minister U Thaung Tun on the same day acknowledged the industry backlash in a webinar organised by AustCham Myanmar.

Nonetheless, businesses – who say the original schedule is impossible to meet because of the global health crisis and tough conditions attached – are expected to welcome the government’s change of mind. Key business bodies have urged energy minister U Win Khaing to reconsider the hasty timeline in a joint letter sent on May 25.

The long-awaited tender, issued on May 18, invites companies to bid for the construction of 30 ground-mounted solar plants capable of generating 1060MW of power in total under a 20-year build, operate and own basis. The announcement sparked a row between the ministries and business community, who say that many bidders and suppliers could not inspect the potential land sites or visit the country given existing COVID-19 restrictions.

The American, British and European chambers of commerce argued that the tender would need to be lengthened by at least nine months with the flight ban, quarantine measures for travellers and other COVID-19 constraints.

The June 18 deadline is “impossible to support” for bidders considering financing options, they argued in the letter.

In a rare move, the EU and US embassies also weighed in. The EU urged Myanmar to revise the “unusually short deadline” that “may deprive Myanmar of receiving competitive, quality bids.”

Solar developers say this could be a big step forward for Myanmar’s renewable energy development if the bid is handled well.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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