MP wants more de­tail on for­eign loan pro­pos­als

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun and Win Thaw Tar

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.

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