Speaker requests update on NRC checks
The lower house Speaker yesterday expressed concerns about the lawfulness of a National Registration Card scrutiny campaign.
PYITHU Hluttaw Speaker U Win Myint has called on the minister for labour, immigration and population to ensure that ongoing verification of National Registration Cards (NRCs) is being conducted in accordance with the law.
Before the 1990 election, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population launched a scheme to issue NRCs to every person aged 18 and over who was entitled to vote. In order to do so, they used volunteer assistance as they did not have enough staff to complete the task, and more than a quarter century later, the government is conducting checks of NRC cards to verify that they were properly issued.
Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe yesterday made the case for the need for NRC scrutiny.
“At that time, there was not enough scrutiny. The main aim was to issue NRC cards before the election,” he said during a session of the Pyithu Hluttaw. “It is possible that people were incorrectly issued NRC cards. Almost everyone 18 and over was issued a card at that time.”
Under ministry instructions, officials are also currently scrutinising applications for replacement cards or applications for NRCs for children.
U Win Myint said that although verification of NRCs is in itself good policy, vigilance is needed in the face of potential corruption.
“We know that these instructions have been issued for good reasons but those responsible need to make sure the checks are being conducted appropriately. The [staff] get a chance to act corruptly because of these instructions,” he said.
The Speaker said there had been allegations of bribery within the offices of officials charged with carrying out the NRC checks. “The process causes corruption. Degenerate employees have asked for bribes of up to K100,000 [US$81],” he said.
In response, the minister for labour, immigration and population said the public should report any corrupt behaviour such as bribe-taking or delaying of applications if money is not provided. He said staff who are found to be engaged in this type of misconduct would be sacked or even imprisoned.
At this point, it is estimated that over 20,000 NRC checks have been conducted in Yangon alone.