25 July 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - The governments of Myanmar, Japan and Thailand will be meeting over the troubled Dawei special economic zone (SEZ) project that has stalled since 2013 for lack of funding.
Ministry of Commerce assistant secretary U Khin Maung Lwin said Japan will participate fully in the project and that ministerial-level meeting will be held where matters concerning ITD's role will also be discussed.
Japan is no stranger to developing SEZs in Myanmar, as Japanese companies were involved in the development of the Thilawa SEZ, south of Yangon. Myanmar officials
"It would better with Japanese participation, and the Japanese government has also expressed interest," he said. Both
The SEZ, it is believed, will have positive effects for Dawei and its surrounding areas, with electricity supply and better transportation among them. The manufacturing industries will benefit, and so will tourism, fisheries
U Kyi Soe, a regional
Dawei SEZ management committee vice-chair U Myint San said critical infrastructure such as a two-way road and electricity has been left uncompleted and needed to be ready. "A loan will be obtained from the Thai government for the infrastructure, tenders will be called after that and we hope to construct the road by mid-2020," he said.
Myanmar government officials said with the environmental impact and social impact assessments have been conducted, the land-lease will be sent to Thailand. "Myanmar's part required to start the project will be done," U Khin Maung Lwin said.
Meanwhile, U Myint San said given the deadline of 2015 has passed for the completion of the project, the delay and implementation showed that ITD has not been following the contract. "There must be
U Myint San said the initial forecast was for the project to be completed within eight years. Because construction of the basic infrastructure has not begun, the SEZ's management committee has proposed that both the basic infrastructure and the first phase of the project be implemented simultaneously.
The Dawei SEZ's troubles include land appropriation by the government that has created controversy as no compensation in cash or land has been given to the owners. Speculators who bought land also suffered when the project floundered. ITD is also mired in the compensation issues as local politicians alleged that there was no adequate compensation and now want the land compensation issues to be settled first before the project starts.
U Than Win, a local activist, said the assessments need to be done thoroughly and locals need to be informed.
"We welcome development but with better plans and after thorough studies," he said. – Translated