Ministry seeks to axe Inland Water Transport law
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