Ayeyarwady chief minister laments lost opportunities

The outgoing Ayeyarwady Region government has laid down a good foundation for its successor, though it has not been possible so far to put into practice many of the good ideas the government had set in motion, the current chief minister said last week.

Practical difficulties had prevented much progress on plans to advance development, peace and the rule of law, said U Thein Aung, who will soon hand power to a new chief minister.

As with the country at large, the incoming regional government will be heavily dominated by National League for Democracy MPs, who will displace the current ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party majority.

At the launch of a new rural lender – the Ayeyarwady Farmers Development Bank – the chief minister took the opportunity to claim credit for laying the foundations for three new industrial zones.

When complete, he said, they would provide work for the region’s 2 million unemployed, while attracting back many workers who had had to leave the region to find jobs. The zones are being built at Maubin, Wakema and the region’s capital Pathein.

However, opponents had managed to block progress on his deep-sea port project and a coal-fired electricity plant to be built in Ngayokekaung, U Thein Aung complained.

“Organisations opposing the government and even some parties were involved in foiling this project,” he said.

The coal plant was widely protested by civil society groups and local residents, while U Thein Aung was determined to proceed, as previously reported by The Myanmar Times. Last year, addressing the audience at a civil-society forum on the topic, he argued that the project would benefit the region.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation and A1 Group of Companies conducted soil tests but the project was reportedly halted in July as opposition continued.

U Thein Aung said last week that a 230KV power substation providing electricity to villages had 70MW left unused that could be used to support an industrial zone if it was built.

For the industrial zone project at Pathein, a company called Ayeyar Hinthar had found a location and had land ready to build, he said. Aye-yar Hinthar is the main investor behind the new farmers development bank.

“During our term in office, we laid down a good basis for these future developments,” said U Thein Aung.

Ayeyar Hinthar’s new zone would be nearly as big as Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone in Yangon, and could provide jobs to more than 1 million people, he said.

During his four-and-a-half-year term, the rule of law had been handled effectively, but the agricultural sector had not improved much, he said. “We couldn’t develop agriculture effectively. It is very costly and has to be properly planned.”

As a final touch, he added that primary education was being offered to children in nearly every township.

Source: Myanmar Times

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