Two former ministers, one secretive agency, and some million dollar questions

MPs and veterinarians are seeking information about a little-known government agency that controls land assets valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

YOU’VE probably heard of JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency. But what about MICA, the Myanmar International Cooperation Agency? No, Myanmar is not getting into the foreign aid game – the naming similarity is about all that JICA and MICA share.

There’s a good reason that you don’t know about MICA. It doesn’t have a website or even a Facebook page, and is almost never mentioned in state media. A Blogspot account was set up in 2012; it has one post, from that year: “Myanmar International Cooperation Agency (MICA) has been established on August 7th, 2012.”

Few people within the current government seem to know much about it; the new Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation took two weeks to respond to questions. It confirmed that the agency has an office in Kamaryut Township’s Uyin Street with seven staff seconded from the ministry.

What MICA does have is land, and lots of it. The agency was set up by the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development – now part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation – to manage the ministry’s assets, primarily farms, fisheries, factories and plants. It holds the leases for at least 66 state-owned properties.

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