President urges parliament to rush Kyaukphyu SEZ

YANGON — President U Thein Sein has urged Parliament to declare the Kyuakphyu township in Rakhine State as a special economic zone (SEZ) by February, media reports said Friday.

In a letter to Parliament dated December 3, the president pushed for an official launch of SEZ in February, 2016, Deputy Minister for Railways U Myint Thein said, state-owned Mirror newspaper reported.

The proposed date for the launch of the project is two months prior to the transfer of power by the U Thein Sein administration to the next government which will be formed by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) on April 1. 

The SEZ project area will cover altogether 4289 acres (1736 hectares), but the first phase  will comprise only 250 acres (100 hectares), the deputy minister said. The rest of project would be implemented over the next 30 years, he added.

This SEZ project will be implemented by China to fulfill the “the two oceans policy” of the Chinese communist government.

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Local people, civil society members and the activists have protested against the project frequently because of its anticipated environmental impact and the questionable benefits for locals.

The project was initially proposed as a mega-infrastructure project which would include the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railway, the Kyaukphyu-Kunming gas pipeline and the SEZ. After frequent protests, the railway project was dropped.

The gas pipeline is already operational but continues to be the source of criticism by the local people and activists along the route. The latest protest against the gas pipeline was staged last month by ethnic Rakhine locals working in Japan.

MPs will discuss the president’s proposal letter to parliament soon.


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