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Government pledges low-cost housing will be affordable

Feb 21. 2013
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By Eleven Media Group

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The Ministry of Construction plans to provide loans nationwide to low-income people to purchase low-cost housing, Soe Tint, deputy minister, told Parliament on Tuesday.


The plan is meant to benefit people at the “grassroots level”, he said, adding that a monthly repayment system would be used to ensure low-cost housing was not beyond the reach of most people. The Ayeyawon and Yatanar low-cost apartment projects in Yangon’s Dagon Seikekan township are pilot projects for low-cost housing, he said.
“The government is providing more than 60 billion kyats for basic infrastructure such as water sanitation system, electricity and social buildings,” Soe Tint said, adding that the government was open to suggestions from MPs on the pilot projects.
“The projects will be transparent,” he said.
The deputy minister said a burst of economic activity in Yangon was increasing demand for apartments and the city needed between 15,000 to 30,000 new units a year.
“We plan to construct low-cost apartments across the country. We are discussing with technicians here and overseas the best ways to construct low-cost apartments,” Soe Tint said.
Govt suspends plan to build 4 hospitals in capital
The Ministry of Health has shelved plans to build four 500-bed hospitals in Nay Pyi Taw and will use the nearly 12 billion kyats (about US$14 million) earmarked for the projects to upgrade Yangon General Hospital and build Taunggyi University of Medicine, Health Minister Pe Thet Khin told Parliament on Monday.
The move follows criticism in Parliament last week that the government was short-changing existing hospitals by allocating so much money to build new ones in the capital.
“There was a plan to build four hospitals in Nay Pyi Taw to keep in line with the standard of health facilities in Yangon and Mandalay. We accept calls to suspend building four 500-bed hospitals if this is currently unnecessary,” the minister said.
He said that the budget did not need to be cut as funds could be used for Yangon Hospital’s upgrade and construction of Taunggyi University of Medicine.
The national budget for the next fiscal year will see 198 billion kyats go to the health ministry, down from 213.5 billion kyats this fiscal year. 
Danish band Michael Learns to Rock to perform in Yangon
Danish pop rock band Michael Learns to Rock will perform for the first time in Myanmar at the People’s Square in Yangon on March 31, according to concert organiser Friendship Entertainment.
The concert will be the second by an international artist in Myanmar. Two months ago American singer/songwriter Jason Mraz performed to 70,000 fans at the MTV EXIT concert held at the same venue.
Michael Learns to Rock was formed in 1988 by singer-keyboardist Jascha Richter, drummer Kare Wanscher, guitarist Mikkel Lentz, and bass player Soren Madsen. Madsen left the band in 2000 and the remaining members have continued as a trio to date.
Since their debut in 1991, the band has reportedly sold more than 11 million records worldwide, mostly in Asia. It songs are frequently covered by Myanmar singers. The most popular ones here include “Sleeping Child”, “That’s Why (You Go Away)”, “Take Me to Your Heart”, “25 Minutes” and “Blue Night”.
Red Link to upgrade mobile Net technology
Internet service provider Red Link Communication Company Ltd is planning to upgrade its technology to better support roaming Internet access via cell phones and other handheld devices, a company spokesperson said.
It will upgrade from Wimax to LTE, or long-term evolution, technology, he said. 
Min Swe Hlaing, vice president and co-founder of the company said, “We have to change our system to LTE technology. LTE is Wimax’s next technology. We will follow the trend of Wimax and we can’t fall behind.” 
“Wimax users can use the indoor customer-premises equipment that we sold to them … only service providers have to change system,” he said added.
The highest download speed for mobile Wimax is 70 Mbps while LTE allows for 100 Mbps. The highest upload speed for mobile Wimax is five to 10 Mbps while LTE allows for 50 Mbps. The average range for LTE is over 40 kilometres while Wimax can only cover about 8km.
Wimax can only be used in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. It has about 10,000 users. The sign-up fee is 450,000 kyats (about Bt15,690).
Researchers to study climate effects in Ayeyarwaddy Basin 
Research into the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of those living in the Ayeyarwaddy River basin will be conducted and submitted to President Thein Sein, the Ayeyarwaddy River Basin Research Organisation said. 
“We have already formed a research team,” its chairperson Dr Daw Swe Swe said. “The team will conduct a survey to determine the precise situation of people who live in the basin and the difficulties they face from climate change.”
She said two groups would be formed: one would focus on natural science and the other on social science. 
The research will be used to suggest changes to policies and laws, Daw Swe Swe said.
“We have to pay special attention to the Ayeyarwaddy River. If we cherish the Ayeyarwaddy we cannot neglect sustainability,” she added stressing the need for accurate data in order to develop plans to ensure the sustainability of the river. 
The Ayeyarwaddy River Basin Research Organisation was established in May last year. It comprises more than 40 researchers.

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