Parliament back to work as budget tops agenda
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.