Many businesses have started to fear that the Kyaukpyu project development will end up being under Chinese control. It could cause problems for Rakhine State if the development of the deep-sea port does end up in Chinese hands.
The businesses have encouraged the government to take some time with the project. There is no need for the Chinese to be given first dibs over many other international firms that will want consideration.
The government wants to have the project developers selected by early February at the latest.
By August 25, 2014, 11 countries had 61 companies offering Expression of Interest (EOI) for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development. Twelve of those companies had documents that were worth $1,000, but in the end only 12 EOI documents were submitted according to the Management Committee for the SEZ. They were from seven companies in five different countries.
An official has stated that Myanmar companies are interested in the development.
One businessperson, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that the project has mainly been designed for Chinese developers. The pipelines for the oil and gas between China and Kyaukpyu have already been laid and oil tanks have already been gained. The Chinese will view the SEZ as “a jewel.”
The businessperson would like to see the bidding to be postponed due to the way that the Letpaduangtuang copper-mine project has caused problems. Wanbao Mining from China is operating this project.
There really is not a need to implement the project in a hurry. It is best to refrain from announcing bid results until after the copper-mine project controversies reduce.
It is very important for project transparency. After that, the government needs to consider benefits to local people and the country as a whole.
Local social life and products need to be considered. Giving the Chinese 100 percent control will not benefit the country, and there needs to be a mutual benefit for all. The Myanmar people struggling to make demands, but the Chinese are willing to offer anything. It really has the ability to benefit both, but only if a suitable ratio of around 60:40 between the Chinese and Myanmar people is gained.
The Myanmar plans show that three SEZs will boost economy and manufacturing. There are major plans for Kyaukpyu and Dawei, but no deep-sea port for Thilawa. The idea is that Kyaukpyu will keep petrochemical industries contained.
Parami Group of Energy chief executive Pyae Wa Htun noted that the Kyaukpyu development area is three times the size of Singapore. The economic development could certainly help to ease the racial conflict within the state, however an individual country should not have full development control. The port will connect the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Myanmar together.
This businessman making suggestions does admit that he is one of the project bidders.
According to the businessman, there are no native Myanmar or Indian companies bidding; only Chinese companies. That was why his business placed a bid, despite his business not being within the project area.
He would like to see the country take Singapore’s approach when it comes to awarding contracts, by awarding it to several developers from different countries.
He says that the development is more important than the Silk Road in China, and that nothing could be left for generations in the future. That is why not handing 100 percent stake over is important. The Myanmar people would be better at continuous development of infrastructure if the government was in charge.
Pyae Wa Tun admitted that if China had full control, the project currently worth $1 million would end up being worth Ks 5-10.