Rakhine govt to sign Maungdaw economic zone MOU with mysterious consortium

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

YANGON — The Rakhine State government is pressing ahead with plans for a new economic zone in conflict-hit Maungdaw and plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with local investors later this month.

Rakhine State Minister for Finance and Planning U Kyaw Aye Thein told Frontier that the government would ink the agreement with a company named Naff River Galaxy Infrastructure Development Group on September 29.

The MOU will be signed at the site of the proposed zone, which will be beside the Naf River near the Muslim village of Kanyin Chaung.

Kanyin Chaung is a notorious smuggling and crime hotspot, with local police reluctant to enter the area even during daylight.

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It has also been affected by recent violence sparked by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s August 25 attacks, which has seen almost 400 people killed according to official figures and unofficial estimates running much higher.

Kyaw Aye Thein said there would be “full security” in the area on the day of the signing.

He added that the previous government had originally planned to establish a trade zone in the area but it had recently been upgraded to an economic zone. The zone will have some features of a special economic zone, but will be administered by the regional rather than Union government.

Investors will be able to lease land in the zone at low prices and will pay zero tax, he said.

Who is behind Naff River Galaxy?

Naff River Galaxy Infrastructure Development Group was registered on September 5, records from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration show.

Kyaw Aye Thein said it was a consortium of “about seven” businesses from Maungdaw and Yangon, but declined to give names.

The government had held informal discussions with Maungdaw business leaders about the zone and encouraged them to form a consortium to oversee development, he said. They then attracted investors from Yangon, he added.

The company has two directors: U Kyaw Naing Than, who holds a Citizenship Scrutiny Card issued in Maungdaw Township, and U Kyaw Tint, whose CSC was issued in Yangon’s Lanmadaw.

The DICA companies registry shows that neither hold any other directorships.

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