China has started reaping rewards for backing the February 1 military takeover in Myanmar.
The military regime-controlled Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) this week approved 15 projects, including a Chinese $2.5-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) power project, easily the biggest single investment since the new military takeover.
The MIC, headed by Lt General Moe Myint Tun, did not specify details of the mega project but it was reliably learned from Myanmarese Planning Department sources that the LNG project approved on Friday is likely to be the Chinese-backed Mee Lin Gyaing power project in the country's Irrawaddy Delta.
The nature and cost revealed by Lt Gen Tun's office matches the Mee Lin Gyaing project first discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to Myanmar in 2020.
At that time, Beijing and the National League for Democracy (NLD) government ousted by the February 1 coup signed a letter of intent to speed up implementation of the project under the countries' Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement.
At the time of the coup, the Mee Lin Gyaing project was one of two LNG projects awaiting official approval. The other is worth $2 billion.
The 1,390 MW Mee Lin Gyaing project is to be developed jointly by Yunnan Provincial Energy Investment Group Co Ltd, the UREC, Zhefu Holding Group Co Ltd, and thee Supreme Group. The project is expected to be complete in 2023; 35 per cent of the power produced will be distributed to Ayeyarwady Region, with the rest going to Yangon via the national grid.
Myanmar's Supreme Group's Deputy CEO U Htu Htu Aung said that the joint venture company has been awaiting approval for the Mee Lin Gyaing project and is yet to be formally intimated . However, the company has picked up information about the project clearance, Aung said.
Asked about possible delays due to the aftershocks of the coup, Aung said: "It all depended on the foreign investor."
"As a local company, we will not say that. It would depend on the main foreign investors," he said.
The MIC said 100 per cent power from these new approval LNG projects would be sold domestically, in pursuit of power self-reliance target set for 2030.
The MIC said that it has also approved new projects for livestock, manufacturing and other sectors, and increases in the capital of two existing projects.
The World Bank's latest forecast reveals that Myanmar's economy is on a nose dive projected to contract by 10 per cent this year due to the impact of the military takeover.
Recently, the United Nations Development Programme warned that all financial reports since the coup indicated Myanmar is approaching economic collapse.
The number of new registered companies declined nearly 87% following the coup compared to the same period last year.