Amid Opposition, Myanmar Amends Fiscal Year

By Tin Htet Paing 31 October 2017

YANGON — Amid calls for reconsideration from military representatives and opposition lawmakers, Myanmar’s national fiscal year will be changed to the period from October to September starting from the 2018-19 financial year as the Union Parliament endorsed and documented the presidential proposal to amend the current period on Tuesday in Naypyitaw.

The Myanmar government’s current fiscal year is the 12-month period beginning on April 1 and ending on March 31. President U Htin Kyaw submitted a letter to Parliament late last month urging lawmakers to change it to Oct. 1 through to Sept. 30.

Deputy minister U Maung Maung Win for the planning and finance ministry said at Parliament on Tuesday that the main purpose for the change is to secure maximum consecutive dry months as monsoon season in Myanmar starts in June and ends in October.

Securing consecutive dry months is beneficial to the operational flow of many sectors including tourism, agriculture, mining and forestry, he said.

“Running construction and infrastructural operations continuously during dry months would result in good financial flow and job opportunities, which would help the country’s development,” U Maung Maung Win said at Parliament.

Fiscal years vary in different countries—156 countries follow the calendar year while 12 countries including the United States, Laos and Thailand use the October-September period. Myanmar has been practicing the April-March fiscal year since 1974.

Military representatives to Parliament and lawmakers of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP) called for reconsideration last week at Parliament saying that the current fiscal year has been practiced for the past 40 years and changing it would lead to inconvenience.

Parliament started to discuss the president’s proposal on Oct. 17 and the deputy minister of planning and finance stated that the beginning of the budget year is immediately followed by Thingyan public holidays under the current practice while military representatives and opposition lawmakers argued that the holidays had been reduced to five days this year and that this been no significant impact on functions of the fiscal year.

Explaining the strength of the new fiscal year at the Tuesday session of the Parliament, the minister also acknowledged a weakness in that it would affect the tendering process. However, he said that this could be overcome with good institutional management.

The issue was brought into parliamentary discussion late last year by a lawmaker and was later discussed during the meeting of the union financial commission held in July.

Based on consultation with union ministries and regional level institutions, they have commented that they could adapt to the new fiscal year smoothly and the decision to change the fiscal year was made by cabinet members in September, according to the deputy minister.