Thursday, September 5, 2013

60% of Investment Already Paid for Suspended Myitsone Dam: Chinese Developer

60% of Investment Already Paid for Suspended Myitsone Dam: Chinese Developer

By May Kha - The Irrawaddy, September 5, 2013

RANGOON. The Chinese backer of the Myitsone dam project says more than
half the funds to construct the multi-billion-dollar project have
already been paid to Burma, although the project was suspended last year.

Sixty percent of a total 3.6 billion in investment to build the
controversial hydropower dam project in Kachin State has been paid,
according to Wang Qiyue, director of China Power Investment Corporation
(CPI), who was speaking during an energy investment summit in Rangoon
earlier this week. It was the companys first transparent report about
its investment in the project.

The Myitsone hydropower dam is expected to supply up to 4,600 megawatts
of electricity when it is completed. CPI plans to build the dam in
collaboration with Burmas Ministry of Electric Power as well as Asia
World Co., which is owned by a Burmese business tycoon, Steven Law, who
is the son of recently deceased drug kingpin Lo Hsing Han.

The project was suspended last year by Burmas President Thein Sein, who
faced mounting public criticism over its potential environmental and
social impact. The president has confirmed that the project will not be
resumed during his term, which ends in 2015. However, in recent months
renewed activity has been reported, including trucks driving around the
proposed dam site, and China has expressed interest in restarting the
project in the future.

With more than half the 3.6 billion investment paid, questions have
arisen over how the funds were spent. When asked to explain who had
received the funds, the CPI director told The Irrawaddy that the Burma
government and the Burmese people were indivisible, that the government
had initiated the project for the public interest, and that he believed
the government had spent the money to build roads and bridges.

He said if the project was restarted, CPI would invest at least 1
billion more.

CPI signed a deal for the Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River in
2006. The deal also called for five dams to be constructed on the May
Kha River, and another two dams on the May Li Kha River, according to
the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Wang Qiyue denied reports of activity at the Myitsone site, saying that
although CPI hoped to resume the project, it had not yet begun
negotiations with the Burma government to do so.

He said CPI did not plan to redraft its contract for the project, as the
Chinese backers of another project, the controversial Letpadaung copper
mine in Sagaing Division, did recently. That renegotiation gave a
greater percentage of profits to the Burma government.

Any country can inspect the division of profits for a project, Wang
Qiyue told The Irrawaddy. No country can invest in a project like
Myitsone that just has a small profit. [CPI] will not continue the
project if there are amendments to the previous pact or a change in the
division of profits.

We will just have to wait and see how the next government manages the
issue. They [the Burma government] may try their best. Whatever we do,
we will discuss with them.

He said CPI planned to share more information about the project with the
Burmese public.

The people object to the project just because they dont understand
hydropower well, he said. Well explain it to them. We must show the
public the pros and cons of the project so they can decide. Previously,
we couldnt do that. Now we can. So we will do our best.

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