By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER
HPA-AN — Government officials spruiking investment opportunities in Kayin State have reiterated support for a controversial coal power project, warning that development will be impossible without stable electricity.
The Kayin State Investment Fair, which opened in the state capital Hpa-an today, brought together government officials from the state and Union level, and domestic and international businesspeople.
Kayin State Chief Minister Daw Nang Khin Htwe Myint and Union Minister for Planning and Finance U Kyaw Win both stressed the importance of providing power. “Unless you have electricity, do not even think of development,” Kyaw Win said in his opening speech.
He urged people “not to have doubts” about a proposed 1,280-megawatt coal power plant that is supported by the government but has been opposed by some activists and communities in Kayin State. He added that the project had been “carefully planned”.
The US$2.8 billion project is a joint venture between Thai public company TTCL and the Kayin State government, which will hold a 5-percent stake.
The plant is expected to come online in 2023 and burn up to 4 million tonnes of coal a year, Reuters reported in October.
TTCL is itself a joint venture between Japan’s Toyo Engineering and Thailand’s Italian-Thai Development that was established in 1985.
Nang Khin Htwe Myint said better electricity supply was the government’s first priority followed by development of tourism, agriculture and transportation.
Kayin State was rich in natural resources, she said, but has in the past struggled to attract foreign investment because of conflict and lack of development. Nang Khin Htwe Myint noted that the state was getting more peaceful and many areas were now safe to visit.
At the event government officials also highlighted Kayin State’s strategic location on the Asian Highway, and its close proximity to Thailand.
The Kayin State Investment Fair was co-organised by the Myanmar Investment Commission, Kayin State government and Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Events today included an exhibition, investment seminar and business matching event, while attendees can undertake an optional site visit tomorrow.