Burma’s Max Myanmar Group, a domestic partner in the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial complex, officially said on Wednesday it was pulling out of the project, adding to doubts about how the US$ 50-billion project will go forward.
Mizzima reported on June 3 that Max Myanmar Group, which owns 25 percent of Dawei Development Co Ltd, had decided to pull out of the project, which has had problems finding financial backers.
“We are pulling out from the project gradually,” Zaw Zaw, Max Myanmar's owner, told Reuters by telephone when asked about the reports this week. He declined to give more details.
The project’s main developer, the Italian-Thai Company of Thailand, has had problems finding financial backing for the $50 billion, 250-square kilometre (97-sq mile) complex that is planned to include a deep-sea port, steel mills, refineries, a petrochemical complex and power plants. Earlier this year, the Burmese government cancelled a coal-fired power plant after strong opposition by environmentalist over the project’s health costs to nearby villagers.
The Dawei project was started by the military government that ruled Burma until March 2011. Critics complained that the project lacked transparency and had very little input from citizen stakeholders.
The Burmese energy minister told Reuters in February that at least two other special economic zones would be developed more quickly than Dawei.
Thailand, which will benefit from cheaper energy through the port and the project, is still committed to developing Dawei. In May, it approved a budget of 33.1 billion baht ($1.1 billion) for infrastructure in the west of the country that would link with the border area and Dawei.
Asean officials have said that the Dawei project must be completed because the prestige and credibility of the region hinges on the project’s follow through. It is designed to provide major savings in transportation of energy and other goods to the Southeast Asia region.
Mizzima reported that in January Max Myanmar said it had agreed to acquire one-quarter of Dawei Development Company (DDC). Earlier, the contractor, Italian-Thai, had said it will maintain at least a 51 per cent stake in DDC, but other partners are needed.
Reports by local residents said there has been little building going on in the Dawei project area.
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