Pyithu Hlut­taw agrees to re­view elec­tion sub-com­mis­sions pay

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

A PRO­POSAL urg­ing a re­view of monthly salaries for elec­tion sub­com­mis­sion mem­bers was ac­cepted by the Pyithu Hlut­taw at a ses­sion of the lower cham­ber yes­ter­day.

Leg­is­la­tion amend­ing the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion Law passed last month, stat­ing that elec­tion sub­com­mis­sion mem­bers who are not civil ser­vants shall have the right to en­joy a monthly salary and al­lowance. But law­maker U Hla Moe (NLD; Aung Myay Tharzan), the sub­mit­ter of yes­ter­day’s pro­posal, said this pro­vi­sion would un­duly bur­den state cof­fers and should be re­vised.

Un­der the law, monthly salaries for elec­tion sub-com­mis­sion chairs and mem­bers at all lev­els is grad­u­ated based on the sub-com­mis­sions’ ad­min­is­tra­tive des­ig­na­tions. At the low­est rung is the ward- or village-level, then town­ship, dis­trict, and state or re­gion, at a range of K90,000 (US$75) and K70,000 per month for ward- or village-level chairs and mem­bers, re­spec­tively, up to K340,000 and K310,000 at the state and re­gion level.

Part of the prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to U Hla Moe, is that the law states only that sub-com­mis­sions com­prise at least three peo­ple – a chair and two mem­bers – and does not cap the size of these elec­toral bod­ies.

“In last Novem­ber’s elec­tion, sub­com­mis­sions were formed with five mem­bers,” said U Hla Moe.

He said sub-com­mis­sions con­sti­tuted of three mem­bers would re­quire a to­tal bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of about K50 bil­lion an­nu­ally, not­ing the added cost that sub-com­mis­sions formed of more than three mem­bers would bring.

“While the coun­try has tried to ful­fil the con­sid­er­able needs of the ed­u­ca­tion and health sec­tors, this great ex­pense will be a bur­den on the coun­try,” he told re­porters.

He added that par­lia­ment should also re­view the term dur­ing which sub-com­mis­sion mem­bers are el­i­gi­ble for salaries and al­lowances.

“They just worked for three or six or nine months at the most dur­ing the elec­tion. The coun­try’s bud­get will face a short­age if it has to pay salaries for 60 months, un­til the com­mis­sion’s term ends,” he said. Un­der the law, the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s term is five years, with sub-com­mis­sions serv­ing iden­ti­cal ten­ure.

MP U Soe Myint (NLD; Amara­pura), also known as U Aung Zaw Myint, sec­onded the pro­posal. “It is pre­sumed that it [the Union bud­get al­lo­ca­tion] should pay salaries for a pe­riod they have ac­tu­ally worked,” he said.

The UEC is invit­ing ap­pli­cants who are in­ter­ested in work­ing on its sub-com­mis­sions across Myan­mar’s re­gions and states, and it will ap­point se­lected ap­pli­cants be­gin­ning in Oc­to­ber. U Hla Moe said he had de­lib­er­ately sub­mit­ted his pro­posal so that par­lia­ment could take up the is­sue be­fore sub-com­mis­sions’ new mem­bers were on the gov­ern­ment pay­roll.

The Pyithu Hlut­taw agreed to ac­cept the pro­posal yes­ter­day, the same day the UEC an­nounced that a by-elec­tion to fill va­cant par­lia­men­tary seats is likely to be held early next year.

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