Committee to Assess Government’s Budget Request

By Nyein Nyein 21 November 2016

The parliamentary public accounts committee will review and pass comment on the government’s supplementary budget request—which was submitted to the Union Parliament last Wednesday—before the end of November.

Lawmakers will decide whether to approve the request after receiving reports from the public accounts committee and the joint bill committee on the budget amendment bill.

The requested supplementary budget allocation for 16 ministries and Union-level organizations—including the Central Bank—is 1.35 trillion kyats (US$1 billion) until March 2017.

The national budget estimate approved for the 2016-2017 fiscal year in March 2016 was 20.3 trillion kyats.

Sai Thiha Kyaw, a lower house Shan Nationalities League for Democracy party lawmaker representing Shan State’s Mongyai Township, told The Irrawaddy that they would try to compile the budget assessment reports on time, as directed by Upper House speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than.

“The supplementary grant request for the remaining five months of the 2016-2017 fiscal year is less than the previous year,” said Sai Thiha Kyaw, who has been a member of the parliamentary public accounts committee for two consecutive parliamentary terms. He was reelected in the November 2015 election.

In line with the budget procedure law, Sai Thiha Kyaw said the parliamentary committees would review whether it is compulsory to approve the budget for salary payments, taxation and interest on loans, or repairs after natural disasters.

The defense ministry’s budget request was the third highest at 100 billion kyats.

Thirty-eight per cent of the supplementary military budget is allocated to buy necessary machinery, mainly for the air force, explained deputy defense minister Rear Admiral Myint Swe in Parliament.

The Burma Army has been fighting ethnic armed groups in northern Shan and Kachin states, where they have used fighter jets and heavy artillery.

The rest of the supplementary military budget covers salaries and transport and is to supplement loss of income from Burma Army-owned businesses.

Other budget requests are mostly to pay salaries for new civil servants, to pay for renovations of government housing, to renovate school buildings, roads, and bridges, and for land compensation.

The Ministry of National Planning and Finance requested the most money (310 billion kyats) while the Ministry of Energy and Electricity requested 189.6 billion kyats—the second highest amount.

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Sport requested 99.4 billion kyats and 30.4 billon kyats respectively, while the Ministry of Transport and Communications requested 35.9 billion kyats and the Ministry of Industry asked for 27.8 billion kyats.

The supplementary budget requests of the Ministry of Border Affairs and the Ministry of Border Affairs—two of the three ministries controlled by the Burma Army—were 9.2 billion kyats and 50 billion kyats respectively.

Home affairs deputy minister Maj-Gen Aung Soe said the money is for police and firefighters’ salaries, the renovation of prison buildings, border fencing and the repair of police security posts on the Burma-Bangladesh border.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested 2 billion kyats for the support of 44 Burmese embassies abroad, according to its deputy minister U Kyaw Tin.

In addition to the ministries, the Central Bank also asked for 130.6 billion kyats while the combined total of other Union-level organizations stood at less than 19 billion kyats.