By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER
NAY PYI TAW — Myanmar’s lower house of parliament has suspended a controversial US$70 million private hospital project in Yangon.
The Parkway Yangon Hospital was slated for development on a 4.4-acre plot in the downtown area, close to Yangon General Hospital.
But on May 4, a National League for Democracy MP, Dr San Shwe, submitted a proposal to suspend the lease granted for the site, on the corner of Bogyoke Aung San and Pyay roads, to a consortium led by Malaysian firm IHH Healthcare.
Minister for Health Dr Myint Htwe told parliament today that he supported the proposal to stop the project.
He said the project lacked transparency, as the previous government had approved it without conducting a tender.
Following his remarks, speaker U Win Myint formally approved the decision to suspend the project.
Earlier, seven MPs, including three from the military, also discussed the proposal. The military representatives did not explicitly support the decision, but stressed the importance of raising the quality of the public health system.
The former Yangon Region government, led by current vice president U Myint Swe, approved the project on a build, operate and transfer basis in January, shortly before it left office. The decision prompted howls of condemnation, particularly from medical professionals, who argued that the land should instead be used for a public hospital.
The lease was for 50 years, with the possibility of a 20-year extension under Myanmar’s investment laws. Once the lease term ended, the assets would have reverted to state ownership.
Dr San Shwe Win, who represents Yegyi in Ayeyarwady Region, said the land had been designated for an extension of Yangon General Hospital and should not be leased for a private project.
He added that he submitted the proposal to ensure transparency and to serve the public interest.
Dr Than Ngwe, an NLD representative for Taunggyi, seconded the proposal and there were no objections.
Yangon Region parliamentarians had also expressed their opposition to the project, with the regional assembly’s Finance, Planning and Economic Committee proposing in March that it be suspended pending a review.