A new mining law will compel the government to put a proportion of profits from the sector into a development fund so that local communities benefit from mining projects, says Minister for Mines U Myint Aung.

“The ministry is working to amend the by-laws so that there is a reserve fund for regional development. Income from the industry will go toward both corporate social responsibility projects and mine closure programs,” U Myint Aung told the Pyithu Hluttaw on February 11.

Under the current system, the Ministry of Mines gives income from the sector to the Ministry of Finance, U Myint Aung said. It is then redistributed through the annual budget.

The minister was speaking in response to a question from MP Saw Htut Khaung Lwin about the government’s income from mining in Kayin State and what percentage is used for regional development.

Saw Htut Khaung Lwin, the representative Kyainnseikyi, said the ministry both local and foreign companies, the latter mostly from China and India, have both legal and illegal mining operations in the state, where antimony is particularly plentiful.

U Myint Aung said his ministry granted permits to 109 local and foreign mining companies in Kayin State in 2012-13 but it had no power over how income was spent.

“We gave more than K1.3 billion for 2012-13 from these industries to the Ministry of Finance,” he said.

While this was not used directly for regional development, U Myint Aung said private mining companies have been fulfilling the needs of locals and are an important source of jobs.

He added that the government wants to amend the 2008 constitution to introduce provisions on the sharing of natural resources with region and state government so that those living near mining projects enjoy a share of the profits.

Saw Htut Khaung Lwin said change is sorely needed to meet the aspirations of ethnic groups.

“We are rich in natural resources but we haven’t been able to use this for developing our region,” he said. “Local people are living in poor conditions.”

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/9556-mining-law-to-mandate-community-development-funds.html