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Ethnic state govts prepare for regional development

The regional governments of the various ethnic states in Burma are considering plans for local development after President Thein Sein last week pledged wider mandates to regional and state administrations.

USDP MP Sein Oo, the National Race Affairs Minister in Karenni state, singled out better transportation as an imperative step in his region’s development.

“Transportation is one of the crucial issues for regional development – once we have better transport infrastructure, we should be able to follow up with improvements to the education, health, social and economic sectors,” he said.

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Arakan state Minister for Electric Power and Industry Aung Than Tin said his state assembly recently sent a proposal to Naypyitaw requesting the implementation of a gas turbine power generator project to tackle electricity demands.

“We have to prioritise development for rural areas – especially improving farmers’ livelihoods,” he said. “We must attend to land dispute cases, grant farmers loans, and provide them with agricultural technology.”

In Mon State, the state’s Minister of Planning and Economics, Dr Min Nwe Soe, said he welcomed the president’s pledge and expressed hope that it would be followed up.

“It’s the righteous thing to do,” he said. “Previously, there were directives from the President’s Office but they never materialised on the ground. But now we are hopeful this will actually happen. It should allow the public to raise issues and the regional government to draw up more effective development plans.”

SNDP representative Sai Aik Pao who is the current Minister of Mining and Forestry in Shan state said that the Shan assembly has sent a proposal to the Burmese president to allocate 50 percent of all taxes from the extractive industry to the coffers of each state or regional government.

And in Chin state, his counterpart Kyaw Nyein echoed the call, saying that poverty in his region could be alleviated if the state government is allowed to manage extractive industries in its own area.

“If the regional governments were handling the extractive sector, we could invite businesspeople to participate in our region’s development and help create job opportunities for the local people,” he said.

[Read President Thein Sein’s speech on 9 August here – http://www.mrtv3.net.mm/newpaper/108newsn.pdf]

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