August 19, 2016

REVIEWING OUR EFFORTS — Three ministries hold press conference on work performance for first 100 days

Officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Border Affairs and Ministry of Electricity and Energy talks to media during the press conference in Nay Pyi Taw.
Officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Border Affairs and Ministry of Electricity and Energy talks to media during the press conference in Nay Pyi Taw.

A PRESS conference on the new government’s work performance for the first 100 days was held at the Ministry of Information in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, with permanent secretaries and director-general of the three ministries— the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, the Ministry of Border Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— giving press briefing and answering media questions.
Permanent Secretary U Htain Lwin of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy elaborated on the ministry’s 100-day work performance regarding project implementation in the power and energy sector.
The permanent secretary said that new power plants were built in Mandalay Region and Mon State, thereby contributing towards ensuring adequate power supply in the regions.
He added that installation of new power lines was carried out in Magway Region and Chin and Rakhine States to electrify Falam and Maei Townships and the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone.
Regarding the delivery of power, he said that sub-power stations and installation of power lines in Kachin and Kayah States enabled rural households to have access to electricity.
Likewise, new power line installations and transformer replacements and the installation of new transformer units was carried out in some townships in Yangon Region to reduce power loss in transmission and distribution and ensure a stable power supply in the region, he added.
On energy sector, the permanent secretary said that issuance of ‘D’ level and ‘E’ level licenses for storage and distribution of liquefied natural gas were conducted and 663 filling stations were given temporary licenses.
Aviation fuel businesses with foreign companies’ investments have been allowed at local airports and the ministry coordinated with the MPTA to make retail fuel pricing fair and reasonable, said the permanent secretary, adding that 60 BRT buses were allowed to use CNG for public convenience.
Next, a press beefing of the Ministry of Border Affairs followed with Permanent Secretary U Ye Naing saying that the ministry’s water supply works benefited 4,951 households under water stress caused by extreme weather patterns across the country.
According to the permanent secretary, inspection teams made field trips to ensure whether construction projects in the fiscal year 2015-2016 met set standards and disaster-hit roads, bridges and buildings were rebuilt.
Moreover, works are underway to accommodate internally-displace persons in Rakhine State and others under a long-term plan, said the permanent secretary.
The ministry arranged two excursion programmes to Nay Pyi Taw for 170 ethnic people in border regions and conducted vocational training courses involving 202 trainees with follow-up help to find those trainees jobs at six different garment factories in Yangon, he added.
He continued that the ministry is trying hard to create a market for trainees who completed backstrap loom weaving courses in Chin, Kayah and Kayin States to support ethnic traditional dress production.
Giving a press briefing on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ work performance for 100 days, Director-General U Kyaw Zeya said that the ministry’s 100-day programme, consisting of eight processes, included protecting Myanmar citizens abroad, relaxing restrictions to facilitate the repatriating of citizens from foreign countries and canceling names of citizens on the blacklist and the relaxation of restrictions on the travels of diplomats and staff of international agencies in the country.
Myanmar established diplomatic ties with Ethiopia, the 114th nation in the country’s diplomatic service sector, last December, said the director-general, adding that there will be a promotion of relations with foreign countries and the appointment of honorary consuls.
He pointed out that more visits of foreign leaders to Myanmar have been seen in the time of the new government and said that arrangements are being made to visit ASEAN members and neighbouring countries by leaders.
Myanmar played the role of coordinator in the Asia-Europe Meeting two times and Myanmar will host the ASEAM Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting next year, he added.
The director-general went on to say that Myanmar and Laos inked an agreement on friendship bridge management and that Myanmar and Singapore agreed on visa-free travel deal that will go into effect on 1 December.
Permanent Secretary U Htain Lwin of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy responded to a query of the measures of electricity sufficiency for industrial zones in Yangon and Mandalay, describing the two cities as the largest electricity consumers in the country. According to him, Yangon consumes nearly half of the country’s electricity generated while Mandalay consumes one fourth of the electricity. Statistics show that the country has 10.8 million households, of which 3.8 million have access to electricity. People without electricity belong overwhelmingly to remote border areas.
The country’s capacity to generate electricity stood at 2,700 MW in the summer last year while the nationwide consumption of electricity at that time was over 2,800 MW. U Htain Lwin blamed power failures on worn-out underground cables, which he said was laid down when the country was under colonial rule. The use of aluminum cables instead of copper cables was also a reason for power failures, he added.
The permanent secretary spoke of challenges encountered in electricity distribution in Yangon, saying that the population of the former capital was growing. Under the 100-day plan, the ministry installed transformers and replaced old power cables in the region.
In the past, the government’s attempts to generate electricity from coal-fired power plants came to a halt after a wave of public protests. The country is rich in water resources, from which electricity can be generated to an amount greater than the country’s total consumption. However, power projects have been suspended for reasons of environmental effects.
The use of water resources for electricity is the only option left for the country to have full access to electricity, the permanent secretary said, adding that the hydropower projects must be systematically designed to ensure that there is little to no impact on the environment.
He talked of the plans to cooperate with the World Bank and international agencies in generating electricity in a bid to make up the rise of electricity consumption, which he expected will exceed 2,900MW and hit 3,000 MW next year.
Water resources fit for generating electricity are located in the far north of the country, he said, stressing the need for the construction of transmission lines to Yangon, the biggest power-consuming city. The 500KV projects are being conducted with the use of foreign loans in eastern Shan State, Mawlamyine, Yay and Dawei.
According to the permanent secretary, plans are under way to enable 1.7 million households to have access to electricity in five years.
Permanent Secretary U Ye Naing of the Ministry of Border Affairs explained plans to resettle internally displaced persons in Rakhine, Kayin and Kachin states in partnership with local governments. For nationalities eager to return to Kayin State, the ministry currently has the potential to receive 196 people at the places of their choice.
“For those with no idea of where to live, we will settle them in a satellite town near Myawady in Kayin State.” he said.
U Ye Naing said affordable housing will be provided for whoever wishes to return, with the houses costing K5 million each unit.
Director General U Kyaw Zeya of the Political Affairs Department responded to a query of possible discussion of the controversial Myitsone dam project during the State Counsellor’s visit to China, saying that the discussion was highly likely. He pledged that they would prepare their best for the talks.
Regarding the boundary demarcations, Myanmar shares a 1,370-mile border with China, a 147-mile border with Laos and a 168-mile border with Bangladesh. The 912-mile border between Myanmar and India has been demarcated, except the Kabaw valley. Myanmar shares a 1.310-mile border with Thailand, but only 36 miles has been demarcated.
Regarding the homecoming of the citizens, the government has relaxed restrictions on their return.


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