Min­istry seeks to axe In­land Wa­ter Trans­port law

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com

LAUNCHED into the sink-or-swim world of pri­vati­sa­tion, the In­land Wa­ter Trans­port agency is strug­gling to keep its head above the waves, par­lia­ment heard on Oc­to­ber 3. The Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions has sub­mit­ted to the Amyotha Hlut­taw a bill to abol­ish the In­land Wa­ter Trans­port Or­gan­i­sa­tion Law.

Union Trans­port Min­is­ter U Thant Zin Maung told MPs, “The In­land Wa­ter Trans­port agency has had trou­ble pay­ing staff salaries and re­pay­ing debts. It can no longer op­er­ate un­der the ex­ist­ing law. There­fore, I would like to re­quest par­lia­ment to adopt this bill, which calls for the abo­li­tion of the 2014 In­land Wa­ter Trans­port Or­gan­i­sa­tion Law.”

Loss-mak­ing state-owned en­ter­prises were cor­po­ra­tised un­der the for­mer gov­ern­ment, oblig­ing In­land Wa­ter Trans­port to run on its own fund­ing be­fore it was ready to op­er­ate Union trans­port min­is­ter as a cor­po­ra­tion.

It was ex­cluded from the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get at the start of the 201314 fi­nan­cial year, but was al­lo­cated cap­i­tal of K5.9 bil­lion (US$4.7 mil­lion). How­ever, its total spend­ing since then on pen­sion pay­ments alone has been K6.7 bil­lion.

To save money, the en­ter­prise re­duced or abol­ished its loss-mak­ing ship­ping ser­vices. But this has also re­duced in­come to the point where it can no longer func­tion.

The min­is­ter said the en­ter­prise could only pro­vide the Yangon-Dala ferry ser­vice, with ves­sels do­nated by Ja­pan. Its fleet in­cludes ves­sels aged at least 20 to 60 years old, which were un­likely to at­tract high prices at auc­tion.

“Ac­cord­ing to ad­vis­ers from the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank and the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency [JICA] on the fu­ture of In­land Wa­ter Trans­port, this en­ter­prise should be brought back un­der the gov­ern­ment bud­get un­til it can be run as a cor­po­ra­tion. It should then draw up a de­tailed plan be­fore be­ing fully or par­tially cor­po­ra­tised,” the min­is­ter said, adding that the gov­ern­ment had al­ready ap­proved the re­turn to gov­ern­ment fund­ing sup­port.

“We pre­sented the abo­li­tion bill, which was drafted in ac­cor­dance with rec­om­men­da­tions from the Union At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice, to a cen­tral gov­ern­ment meet­ing on Septem­ber 22. With gov­ern­ment ap­proval, I’ve sub­mit­ted this bill to par­lia­ment,” said the min­is­ter.

MPs agreed to ac­cept the bill for dis­cus­sion in par­lia­ment.

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

‘The In­land Wa­ter Trans­port agency has had trou­ble pay­ing staff salaries and re­pay­ing debts.’

U Thant Maung

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