The country’s main business organisation on Saturday formed teams to support the implementation of the K17.7 billion (US$13 million) economic projects in the violence-prone Rakhine state.

The Union of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) said it has created nine working groups that will assist in carrying out the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD).

The working groups would focus on nine key areas – infrastructure, livestock and fisheries livelihood program, implementation of economic zones, information and public relations, creation of job opportunities and vocational trainings, healthcare, micro loans, crowd funding and tourism sector development.

The funding for the UEHRD was donated by top Myanmar businessmen during a meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Nay Pyi Taw on October 20.

Among the top donors were KBZ bank president U Aung Ko Win, U Maung Wate of Sai Paing Co,  U Tayza of Htoo Co, U Khin Shwe of Zay Kabar Co, U Zaw Zaw of  Max Myanmar Co,  U Chit Khaing  of  Eden Co, and U Thein Tun of the Tun Foundation Bank.

Representatives of each working group will visit Rakhine in the last week of October to have a dialogue with the people and officials to obtain a clear understanding of their needs.

“We will prove that local businessmen can jumpstart development of Rakhine State despite difficulties. Moreover, we will invite businessmen and people living abroad to use social media to inform the international community about the real situation in Rakhine,” said UEHRD member Dr Aung Htun Thet in a statement that was released by UMFCCI on October 21.

During the October 20 meeting, the State Counsellor urged the businessmen to come up with projects to help Rakhine using local resources and not to rely on international support.

“It needs to have fast growth. They (outsiders) are observing our country whether all can participate in our affairs. Suggestions made for Rakhine State development are encouraging,” the State Counsellor said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wants to develop economic zone and agricultural zone in Rakhine and if these projects are developed, it will reduce outward migration as well as encourage inward migration of local people, said U Khin Shwe, one of the tycoon present at the meeting.

“She [Daw Aung San Suu  Kyi] told us to arrange for job opportunities as she wanted to develop an economic zone,” he said in a press briefing.

During the term of the Tatmadaw government, some people who have a hard time finding livelihood in their states had voluntarily relocated to Rakhine, but had to return to their original communities as job opportunities were scarce in Rakhine, U Khin Shwe said.

The Rakhine Development Project will be led by economist Dr Aung Tun Thet.

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