26 Oct 2020 - Source: The Irrawaddy - Myanmar says it has received 16 proposals from nine countries, including Japan, Singapore, Italy, Spain and France, to compete against a Chinese company's proposal for the New Yangon City project, which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
On Saturday, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations said 16 consortiums submitted expressions of interest (EOI), some of which involve two companies in Myanmar, but it did not reveal the details.
The government on Oct.15 called for EOIs to compete in an open "Swiss challenge" tender process overseen by German consulting firm Roland Berger.
Under the process, the initial development proposal drawn up by the Beijing-based China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC), the biggest builders in the BRI, will be made public to allow firms to offer better terms. The winning bidder, if it is not CCCC, will need to pay a reimbursement to the Chinese firm for costs incurred.
The proposed project includes public works and infrastructure construction, such as a Yangon River bridge, roads, resettlement, an industrial park, water treatment, sewerage, a power plant and commercial and residential land.
The Swiss Challenge Tender Committee for New Yangon City overseeing the bidding said the shortlisted applicants will receive information within seven working days after the deadline for EOI submissions. The information will include details on the industrial park, including the scope of infrastructure work, documents to be submitted and a timeframe for the tender process, according to the committee.
The committee said CCCC has 45 working days to match the winning challenger.
Investment minister U Thaung Tun said Myanmar decided to begin the project with the industrial zone to ensure the project's commercial viability and to create jobs to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.
He said the government will hold competitive, transparent international tendering.
The Yangon regional government-owned New Yangon Development Company and CCCC signed an agreement in 2018 under which the Chinese firm was to draw up a proposal for the first phase of the project worth US$1.5 billion (1.95 trillion kyats). However, the project has been a source of controversy due to its flood-prone location, corruption and bribery accusations against CCCC involving development deals in at least 10 African and Asian countries.
In July, Myanmar decided to reduce the cut the budget to $800 million (1 trillion kyats) by reducing the project's size to encourage other firms to bid for a contract. It also formed the tender committee with Roland Berger.
The Irrawaddy made several unsuccessful attempts to speak to the Yangon regional planning and finance minister, U Ye Min Oo, who is also a member of the tender committee.