Par­lia­ment back to work as bud­get tops agenda

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe thanhtoo@mm­ HTOO THANT

Law­mak­ers will re­con­vene for the third reg­u­lar ses­sion of the hlut­taw to­day, when a sup­ple­men­tary ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill of more than K1.3 tril­lion is at the top of their agenda, fol­lowed by a re­sumed debate over the vil­lage and ward ad­min­is­tra­tion law.

CHIEF min­is­ters from all over the coun­try will join mem­bers of the Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on Novem­ber 18 to work on the Union Bud­get Law, as the leg­is­la­ture re­con­venes to­day with a sup­ple­men­tary spend­ing bill be­ing de­scribed as the first or­der of business.

The meet­ing with the chief min­is­ters will take place at Nay Pyi Taw’s Zabuthiri Hall, MPs said.

Faced with higher than ex­pected costs and sag­ging rev­enues, par­lia­ment will con­sider a sup­ple­men­tary bud­get bill that would add an ex­tra K1.35 tril­lion to this year’s K24 tril­lion (US$20 bil­lion) bud­get, an in­crease of about 5 per­cent. Par­lia­ment also has con­sid­er­able un­fin­ished business, in­clud­ing con­sid­er­a­tion of amend­ments to ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion that were not fi­nalised in the last ses­sion.

“This par­lia­ment ses­sion aims to ap­prove ad­di­tional ap­proved ac­counts,” Pyithu Hlut­taw MP U Kyaw Soe Lin (NLD; Pyi­gy­ita­gun), who is a mem­ber of the Pyithu Hlut­taw Bill Com­mit­tee, told The Myan­mar Times. The Union gov­ern­ment has sub­mit­ted the ad­di­tional bud­get al­lo­ca­tions to fund projects and works that it says must be done over the next five months.

The fi­nan­cial com­mis­sion led by Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw has al­ready ap­proved the ad­di­tional spend­ing, to be sub­mit­ted to MPs in the amount of K1.354614 tril­lion, said Vice Pres­i­dent U Myint Swe, vice chair of the com­mis­sion. Of that fig­ure, K607.386 bil­lion would be spent on reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, K553.726 bil­lion on cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, K46.860 bil­lion to re­pay loans and K146.642 bil­lion in business in­vest­ment.

U Myint Swe said some min­istries had al­ready over­spent on their ac­tiv­i­ties in the first half of the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. A mem­ber of the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee told The Myan­mar Times in July that 17 teams had been set up to re­view min­is­te­rial bud­gets and re­duce bor­row­ing. How­ever, the pres­i­dent said both GDP and eco­nomic growth would be lower than ini­tially fore­cast be­cause of tougher macroe­co­nomic con­di­tions dur­ing the past six months, and fall­ing state rev­enue.

The ad­di­tional fund­ing cov­ers the fis­cal year end­ing March 31, 2017.

The Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw’s Bill Com­mit­tee and its Joint Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee will give a pre­sen­ta­tion on the bud­get pro­pos­als, Pyithu Hlut­taw MP Sai Thiha Kyaw (Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy; Mine-ye/Mong Yai), who is also a mem­ber of the Joint Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

“It seems that par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees want to ex­plain the fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions of the leg­is­la­tion for states and re­gions, and dis­cuss how to man­age their bud­gets,” he said.

Sai Thiha Kyaw said the sup­ple­men­tary bud­get bill for the 2016-17 fis­cal year, which was drafted by the Union gov­ern­ment, had al­ready been dis­trib­uted to MPs.

Pyithu Hlut­taw Speaker U Win Myint (NLD; Tarmwe) has al­ready told a pre­lim­i­nary meet­ing of MPs that ap­proval of the sup­ple­men­tary bud­get pro­pos­als will take first pri­or­ity.

Law­mak­ers are also ex­pected dur­ing this ses­sion, which re­sumes to­day, to re­turn to the Ward and Vil­lage Tract Ad­min­is­tra­tion Law, which has un­der­gone three rounds of amend­ments but has yet to be fi­nalised. Sim­i­larly, a bill on “pro­tect­ing cit­i­zens’ per­sonal free­dom and se­cu­rity” will likely be taken up once again.

Asked whether there was any plan to amend sec­tion 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law – a defama­tion clause that con­tin­ues to land so­cial me­dia users in prison and faces grow­ing pub­lic crit­i­cism – U Kyaw Soe Lin said a re­view of the leg­is­la­tion had yet to take place.

The Bill Com­mit­tee would con­sider a re-eval­u­a­tion of the leg­is­la­tion if rel­e­vant Union-level in­sti­tu­tions or an MP put for­ward a pro­posal, he added.

But Pyithu Hlut­taw MP U Hla Moe (NLD; Aung Myay Tharzan), who is a mem­ber of the Joint Hlut­taw Rights Com­mit­tee, said the ses­sion con­ven­ing to­day will fo­cus first and fore­most on the sup­ple­men­tary ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill.

“This is the most im­por­tant and must be ap­proved,” he told The Myan­mar Times. Par­lia­ment re­cessed on Oc­to­ber 7.

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