Yangon’s “new city” authority to publicise project documents in bid to improve transparency

Photo Serge Pun address the audience during the launch of the New Yangon Development Company. Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times

03 May 18 - The authority responsible for Yangon's new city development has vowed to release the project documents of selected tenders for public scrutiny, and allow third parties to challenge the awarded party.

On May 2, the government-owned New Yangon Development Company Limited (NYDC) announced that the NYDC signed a framework agreement with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), to draft and map out a programme proposal for infrastructure projects related to Phase 1 of the new city programme.

The framework agreement, signed on April 30, is the first stage of the NYDC Challenge Model where a company which is qualified to undertake Phase 1 development is selected to submit a set of Pre-Project Documents ("PPD"). PPD includes technical specifications, financial proposal and business model for NYDC to evaluate.

When the PPD are approved by NYDC, the documents will be made public to allow any qualified party to challenge the agreement with better terms on the basis that it strictly adheres to the terms and conditions of the tender assessment criteria. 

As part of the NYDC Challenge, should a second party challenge with a lower bid, CCCC will be allowed to match the offer or forego. If CCCC chooses to forego, the second party will be awarded with the contract and will have the obligation to reimburse all costs incurred in connection with the preparation and submission of the PPD, Serge Pun, vice chair and CEO of NYDC, said. Those costs will be agreed between NYDC and CCCC prior to the initiation of the tender process.

"For a project of this scope and size, it is important to be able to work with companies that have the expertise, experience and financial capabilities to embark with us on this project.

Beijing-headquartered CCCC is an engineering and construction company which specialises in infrastructure assets. The multinational is listed in the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges, with operations spanning 120 countries.

In March, the regional government formed NYDC to develop a landmass twice the size of Singapore as a re-launch of the "new city" development project abandoned last year. NYDC was incorporated under the Special Companies Act and 100pc owned by the regional government. Infrastructure works related to Phase 1 are expected to amount to a sum in excess of US$1.5 billion. This will include the construction of five village townships, two bridges, 26km of artery roads, 10km2 of industrial estate, power plant, transmission and distributions facilities as well as fresh water supply and wastewater treatment plants.

The development for New Yangon City will be primarily based on a Public-Private Partnership model, with businesses contributing in equity investments. For Phase 1, NYDC will develop 20,000 acres of land west of central Yangon across from Kyeemyindaing into an urban industrial district.

The project planners aspire to rival the likes of Shenzhen, South Korea's Incheon and Malaysia's Iskandar. Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said Phase 1 will create two million jobs.

But there were criticisms regarding the lack of transparency.

U Zaw Naing, managing director of Mandalay Technology, questioned why the government is entrenching itself in the commercial activities. He argued the NYDC has not provided any transparency in the selection process.

"The current government and a handful of business tycoons just have a few discussions, and then those projects come about. There's no transparency in how the board or partnerships is formed, and the justification on why those people are selected to be involved," he said in March.

By vowing to make the Pre-Project Documents public and allow the selected project proponent to be challenged by other firms, the NYDC is providing more transparency to the process.

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