Namsan Township MP Aung Tun has called in parliament for the Burmese and Chinese oil and gas firms who operate pipelines through Kyaukme District in northern Shan State to pay a percentage of profits to the Shan State government.
“The oil and gas pipeline operations of Myanmar and China should pay about a 5 percent profit share to the Shan State regional government,” the Ta’ang (Palaung) National Party representative said, addressing lawmakers yesterday at a parliamentary session in Shan State capital Taunggyi.
“If this pipeline project impacts upon the local population, it is the Shan State government’s responsibility to take care of the people,” said Aung Tun. “My question is that if such things happen, how will they help local people?”
His question was answered by Shan State Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Dr. Nyi Nyi Aung, who suggested that the matter be raised at a national level in Naypyidaw.
“This question cannot be answered at a state level,” he said. “It is not [the regional government’s] responsibility.”
The controversial Sino-Myanmar pipeline is financed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in coordination with state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise. It spans from Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State, western Burma, to Kunming in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, a distance of 771 kilometres. Operations on the project were initiated in 2009. The pipeline carrying natural gas to China was opened in October 2013, and the pipeline transporting crude oil was completed in August 2014.
However the US$2.5 billion project has incurred the wrath of protesters in Burma who claim that the project will have adverse social and environmental impacts.
But for China the trans-Burmese pipeline carves a short-cut that allows its ships from Africa and the Middle East to avoid the treacherous and time-consuming Malacca Straits voyage. Beijing has maintained pressure on successive Burmese governments not to waver in the same way that the Myitsone Dam hydropower in Kachin State was halted by public opinion.
The current Shan State parliament session is scheduled from 28 August to 1 September. Other items tabled for debate include state finance, and infrastructure including the laying of telecommunications lines in rural areas.
- Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)