IFC clarifies status of loan to Bagan ‘limbo’ hotel
The IFC says that funding to a hotel developer – whose Bagan project remains in limbo as authorities have deemed it too close to the temples – is dependent on government approval.
THE International Finance Corporation’s funding of a local hotel developer whose Bagan tourism project remains in limbo is dependent on government approval, the IFC clarified yesterday.
On October 22 the IFC announced a loan of US13.5 million to United International Group, which owns Amata Hotel Group, to expand on its hotel developments at Bagan and Inle lake.
U Win Aung, managing director of United International Group, told The Myanmar Times that the Bagan development, which is planned to have 144 rooms, was among some 42 hotels located near the historic site that has had its construction suspended by the government pending a decision on their status.
In 2013, the archaeology department gave the green light to the 42 projects, but they have since been told by the Religious Affairs and Culture Ministry’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library to halt construction leaving the hotels in limbo. The guesthouses are deemed too close to Bagan’s famed temples, an issue that could hinder efforts to achieve UNESCO’s World Heritage listing at the historic site.
In an October 22 press release to announce the United International Group loan the IFC did not make mention of the developer’s project suspension.
But in a statement yesterday, the IFC’s country manager for Myanmar, Vikram Kumar, clarified that any IFC funding would be dependent on government permission.
“IFC is providing financing to United International Group for the development of new hotels both in Bagan and Inle region, and IFC’s financing is conditional on all relevant government approvals being obtained,” he said via email.
“Tourism is an important sector for Myanmar’s economy as it increasingly contributes to economic diversification, sustainable growth, and job creation. IFC supports the development of hospitality projects which are committed to adopting international best practices in operations and sustainability.”
Contacted yesterday, U Zaw Zaw Tun, the director for archaeology, national museum and library, told The Myanmar Times that the government had not yet arrived on a decision on the “limbo hotels”.
“We are looking for a win-win solution for the hotels in Bagan but we don’t know how long it will take,” he said.
The ministry said in May that the hotels would need to move to a dedicated special zone after 10 years.
This edict has not changed, U Zaw Zaw Tun said, but the ministry continued to have discussions with all affected parties, and UNESCO, in hope of finding a different approach.
“Bagan is a place for all people and it could become a World Heritage Site. That’s why we have to conserve the area and make sure it is not impacted,” he said.
‘IFC’s financing is conditional on all relevant government approvals being obtained.’
Vikram Kumar IFC
Over 40 guesthouses and inns in Bagan have been told they have to move to a special zone, despite having been granted official permission to build in 2013.