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Only a quarter of confiscated land being used: minister

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Only a quarter of confiscated land being used: minister

Myanmar Times, 23 Sep 2013

URL: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/825
Less than one-quarter of all land concessions awarded to private companies have actually been developed, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has revealed, as it called on regional governments to move faster on resolving land disputes.

More than 6400 companies have been awarded concessions totalling 3.931 million acres. However, only 955,796 acres – about 24.3 percent – is being used, the ministry said.

The figures were revealed as Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation U Myint Hlaing warned at a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on September 17 that companies which have not used land concessions for their stated aim would be stripped of the right to use the land.

The latest figures also represented an increase on the 3.42 million acres that the ministry said had been awarded to private companies and state bodies to March 31, 2012.

During the meeting, U Myint Hlaing also instructed region and state governments to resolve land disputes submitted to a parliamentary investigation commission within one year.

“Regional governments and Nay Pyi Taw Council need to solve this problem because the public is hurting. They should report to the union government monthly on what actions they have taken,” U Myint Hlaing told government officials.

Each state and region government has formed a taskforce to handle the issue and the minister said they must “check completely and then resolve the problem” according to existing laws.

U Myint Hlaing said the Central Farmland Management Committee and Central Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Committees could help the taskforces to resolve particularly complex disputes.

He said the parliamentary commission had received 745 complaint letters, including 565 relating to confiscations by the Tatmadaw.

The September 17 meeting comes after parliamentarians expressed frustration over the seemingly slow progress the government was making in implementing the commission’s recommendations.

On August 29, the second-last day of the seventh session, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann sent a formal message to President U Thein Sein urging him to speed the process up “out of goodwill and sympathy toward farmers and civilians living in poverty”, according to media reports.

Earlier in the session, almost 40 MPs debated a proposal from commission chairman U Tin Htut calling on the government to move faster on land disputes. U Win Myint of the National League for Democracy said the slow progress was “the direct result of the disobedience of these bodies, which are delaying their tasks”.