Myanmar to reap 10% from Thanlwin hydropower project

Local conglomerate IGE Company plans to sign a joint venture with Hydrochina Corporation to build a 1200 megawatt hydropower project on the Thanlwin River, according to the Ministry of Electric Power.

The Naungpha hydropower project will eventually distribute 90 percent of the electricity to China while Myanmar will only receive 10 percent, over which it will have to buy electricity back at the same rate as it is sold to China.

IGE or the International Group of Entrepreneurs, is a business empire run by the family of former general and Lower House MP Aung Thaung that deals in oil, gas, mining, hotels and timber and is well connected with the former military junta.

The government has a 15 percent stake in the Naungpha hydropower project while Hydrochina Corporation and IGE will receive 85 percent. Hydrochina Corporation will be the main stakeholder in the project as IGE will only receive 3 percent of their combined share.

IGE and Hydrochina Corporation are also planning to implement 225 megawatt Mantaung hydropower project on Namtma River. The contract from this project will be signed together with the contract for the Naungpha hydropower project.

The distribution of electricity and shares and electricity distribution for the Mantaung hydropower project is the same as with the Naungpha hydropower project, with the government taking 15 percent of shares and 10 percent of electricity produced going to the country.

IGE has been allowed to operate four hydropower projects with the total capacity of 1200 megawatt on the Nawchankha River, which flows into Maykha River in Kachin State. They operate the projects together with YPIC International Energy Cooperation & Development from Yunnan Province in neighbouring China.

Myanmar has been signed agreements to implement various hydropower projects in joint venture with private companies from China, all which have been planned without public consultation of environmental and social assessment.

Companies such as Shwe Taung, Asia World, and IGE who all have connections to the former military regime have been allowed to implement 39 hydropower projects with various Chinese companies.

Although these hydropower projects are to be built in Myanmar, the country receives very little benefit from them except in receiving 10 percent of the electricity for free. Chinese companies that have been allowed to build the projects seem to be only investing in Myanmar to sell the electricity back to their own country.

It is time for the authorities, including the parliament, to investigate whether or not the hydropower projects should be allowed in Myanmar and the benefits they will bring to the country.

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

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