The Irrawaddy

Construction Ministry Disciplines Officials for Inflating Costs

NAYPYITAW — The Ministry of Construction has disciplined some of its officials after it was found that an expense claim submitted to Parliament for the polishing of teak doors and other such fittings at the parliamentary buildings was 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 2017-18 fiscal year.

An investigative body was formed after the former 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.

“So, we asked the ministry to discipline the officials. Deputy Construction Minister U Kyaw Lin told me that a deputy director-general was forced to retire and others were demoted, and that the concerned company [that won the tender to polish the teak doors] was asked to return the money,” Daw Yin Min Hlaing told reporters on Friday.

However, U Kyaw Lin declined to comment to the media.

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 department was previously led by a deputy director general and a director, said spokesperson of the Construction Ministry U Myint Zaw, adding that he did not know if they were disciplined or not.

“We want to take action against bigger players and not pawns. This is an example,” said U Aung U Aung Thaik, a member of the Joint Administrative Committee of the Union Parliament.

As of the 2018-19 fiscal year, the committee will require that the budgets for all maintenance work to be submitted for approval, he added.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.