580-Million-Kyat Claim Submitted For Polishing of Parliament Doors

By Htet Naing Zaw 7 August 2018

Naypyitaw—A Union Parliament investigation committee has found that an expense claim submitted to the parliament for the polishing of teak doors and other such fittings in the parliamentary buildings is three times the market cost.

A total of 580 million kyats ($347,000) was spent on polishing the teak doors as part of the annual maintenance of the parliamentary buildings for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

An investigative body was formed after the chairman of the Joint Administrative Committee and deputy speaker of the Lower House, U Aye Tha Aung, questioned the expense during a meeting of the panel in April.

The investigation committee, led by lawmaker Daw Yin Min Hlaing of Magwe’s Gangaw Township, found that the varnish was substandard and flaked off in some places. Further, it found the actual cost was just one-fourth of the bill submitted to parliament.

A report of the findings has been submitted to the speakers of the Union Parliament.

“Leaders will make the decision. I made a technical investigation together with committee members who are engineers-turned-lawmakers,” Daw Yin Min Hlaing told reporters in Naypyitaw on Monday.

The Construction Ministry’s Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development is responsible for certain maintenance tasks of the presidential residence and parliamentary buildings including polishing the teak doors.

The team has questioned officials of the Human Settlement and Housing Development involved in the polishing of the teak doors.

According to Daw Yin Min Hlaing, the expense of polishing the teak doors was not paid from the budget of the Union Parliament, but from the budget of the Construction Ministry.

“I’ve called for setting a separate budget for maintenance works of the parliament, instead of using the Construction Ministry’s budget,” she said.

“Now, when I look to lay blame, they [Construction Ministry’s officials] take cover behind their ministry. And the ministry doesn’t pressure them [to explain]. There is weakness in the administration of the staff there. And money is wasted as a result.”

The ministry also made an internal investigation some two months ago, and submitted its own report to parliament, said U Myint Zaw, the ministry’s deputy director-general,.

“We checked if the amount and prices of polish were correct, and submitted our report to the speaker of the Union Parliament. It’s up to the leaders to decide,” said U Myint Zaw, who is also a spokesperson for the Construction Ministry.

“We’ll make sure there is no such waste in the future,” said U Aung Thaik, a member of the Joint Administrative Committee.

For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Lower House alone has asked for a total budget of 9.4 billion kyats.