MP wants more detail on foreign loan proposals
A PYITHU Hluttaw MP is demanding more specifics after the government last week recommended taking out two loans from international lenders totalling more than US$200 million.
Lawmaker U Aung Hlaing Win (NLD; Mingalardon) told a session of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw session on September 16 that he was unable to speak substantively with his constituents about the vaguely detailed development initiatives the loans would fund.
Three ministries – Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation; Education; and Health and Sport – presented proposals to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on September 12 that would borrow $185.5 million from the Asian Development Bank and 25 million euros ($28 million) from the French Development Agency.
But U Aung Hlaing Win criticised the Union government’s representatives for only “reading six or seven lines” about the projects that would receive the money.
He singled out a proposal for the Ministry of Education, which would get $98.5 million from the ADB loan to in part fund a vocational training schools initiative.
“The budget allocation for projects building roads in the entire Rakhine State is K5 billion [$4.1 million]. But for the project constructing only four [vocational] schools is K120 billion,” he said. “The number of people to enjoy the benefit of the schools is about 3000 people. So I think we need to review whether the project really requires that amount.”
He said more detail would need to be provided if he is to be able to adequately explain spending priorities to constituents who may wonder why the government is unable to fund additional basic education schools or bridges.
He added that it was the duty of MPs to act as a check and balance on the executive branch by scrutinising the loans, which will ultimately need to be paid back with taxpayers’ money.
Amyotha Hluttaw lawmaker U Than Soe (NLD; Yangon 4) seconded calls for greater transparency in the government’s disbursement of international loans, saying spending could be susceptible to corruption without an adequate accountability framework.
Government representatives will return to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw chamber to further elaborate on the loan proposals today, when an updown vote on the borrowing is expected from Union parliament lawmakers.