Myanmar to finish moving Govt to new capital

The move, which began unexpectedly three months ago, will shift almost all central government offices from Yangon to Pyinmana.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 16:53 IST

Myanmar's military government will complete the relocation of its civil servants to a new administrative capital several hundred kilometers away by Saturday, officials said.

The move, which began unexpectedly about three months ago, will shift almost all central government offices from Yangon to Pyinmana, a trading town surrounded by mountain ranges and dense forests.

The government says the move will allow more efficient administration of the country.

Pyinmana is expected to be officially declared the new capital sometime after the move is completed, but it is not clear when.

"Except for some staff who will have to continue work in Yangon, all our staff have to be in Pyinmana by February 4 at the latest," a senior Construction Ministry official said.

Like most people involved in the move, he spoke on condition of anonymity because the government is sensitive about the release of official information.

"All ministers, deputy ministers, managing directors and directors general will have to be in Pyinmana by the first week of February but some ministers will have to ply between Yangon and Pyinmana," another senior government official said Friday, speaking of all ministries.

Offices that will remain in Yangon include the Home Ministry's passport department and the Commerce Ministry, which issues import-export licenses, he said. Yangon, a port city, is the country's commercial center.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said all his ministry's staff, except those with the Protocol Department, which deals with diplomats, had left for Pyinmana by January 31.

The military junta says the country needs a centrally located "command and control center," but many people in Myanmar believe the shift is being made because of worries about possible internal unrest.

Businesspeople, foreign diplomats, and international agencies who already have difficulty communicating with the secretive military regime are questioning whether a move to the remote location will hamper their work further.

"I can envision more difficulty. It will be more time-consuming to get approval for travel permits. We will have to be patient because it will take time for the government staff to get settled in their new place," said a representative of an international aid agency that deals with the Health Ministry.

The junta quietly began building the new capital more than three years ago, constructing a prime minister's residence, an airport, hospital, a golf course, hotels and buildings for each ministry, along with a separate complex that houses military headquarters and bunkers.

The first batch of civil servants who were sent to Pyinmana on short notice in November faced hardships because infrastructure such as living quarters, water and electricity had not been completed.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 16:53 IST