Outgoing Government Gives Wharf Concession to Tycoon’s Shipping Firm

Burma’s Port Authority has awarded Kaung Myanmar Aung Shipping Co. Ltd. the
right to develop a new area for cargo ships to dock on downtown Rangoon’s
riverside, state media reports.
The company is part of the sprawling KMA Group, which is headed by Burmese
tycoon Khin Maung Aye, known to be close to outgoing President Thein Sein.
The announcement comes less than two weeks before a new government takes
over, and follows a series of other awards made during the long “lame duck”
period following the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s trouncing at
elections in November.
The Global New Light of Myanmar said on Monday that the company would build
a “modern wharf and supporting facilities” in Seikkan Township, the
administrative area that stretches between Strand Road and the Rangoon
River.
“The project which would be implemented with the Build, Operate and
Transfer-BOT system is located between the Botahtaung Pagoda and Bo Aung
Kyaw jetty,” it said, citing a Myanma Port Authority announcement.
“On completion, the wharf can handle two 15,000-ton vessels, providing
wharf services to improve the State’s export and import handling.”
According to its website, Kaung Myanmar Aung Shipping was Burma’s first
private shipping company and operates between Rangoon, Malaysia, Singapore
and the Indian ports of Chennai, Kolkata and Nhavasheva, close to Mumbai.
The firm currently ships out of the Asia World Port Terminal in Ahlone
Township.
Presidential advisor Khin Maung Aye’s business empire—which reaches into
aviation with Golden Myanmar Airways, private health care with Parami
General Hospital and finance with CB Bank—has flourished during Thein
Sein’s five-year administration. KMA Group’s website also lists interests
in mining, real estate, hotels, forestry and agriculture.
The outgoing administration has also awarded other concessions ahead of the
transfer of power, reportedly raising concerns among the leadership of Aung
San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which is preparing to
take power.
In January, Myanmar Railways, the state rail agency, awarded the rights to
build two inland ports, in Rangoon and Mandalay, to a subsidiary of Hong
Kong tycoon Robert Kwok’s Kerry Group.
Most controversially, the government appeared to rush through the final
steps of a tender process for the port and industrial zone parts of the
Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone in Arakan State. In December the government
announced that a consortium led by China’s CITIC Construction had won the
two contracts.
As the Wall Street Journal noted in January, “Any contracts given out now
will bolster foreign direct investment in this fiscal year that ends on
March 31, giving the outgoing government maximum credit for their economic
initiatives, rather than being recorded under Ms. Suu Kyi’s leadership.”
 

Source: Irrawaddy

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