Deputy Defense Minister: Army Agriculture on Confiscated Land Saves Money

By Pe Thet Htet Khin 30 May 2017

NAYPYIDAW—The Burma Army’s farming projects inside cantonments and on confiscated land saves more than 75 billion kyats annually from the state’s budget, said Deputy Minister of Defense Maj-Gen Myint Nwe.

During the Upper House legislative session on Tuesday, the deputy minister faced a question by lawmaker U Wai Sein Aung from Arakan State (1) regarding some 100 acres of land grabbed by the Light Infantry Battalion No. 270 in Sittwe in 1994.

The deputy minister said his ministry had already returned some of the land to the government, and would not give back the remaining area because the battalion is farming the area.

“The Tatmadaw really works hard in farming and [livestock] breeding. This not only boosts the food productivity of the country and supports the livelihoods of service personnel, but also saves 75.79 billion kyats (US$51.13 million) annually on the state’s funds,” the deputy minister told lawmakers.

If food expenditure is to be allocated to the army like it is to the police force, the annual military expenditure will need an additional 75.79 billion kyats, he said.

“But the Tatmadaw does not ask for this sum from the state’s budget—it meets this requirement by farming and breeding on its own,” said the deputy minister.

The military institution implements farming and livestock breeding as part of a welfare policy, said the deputy minister. The produce is sold to service personnel and their families at cheaper prices than outside markets, and surpluses are also sold to outside markets at low prices, he said.

When asked by lawmaker U Wai Sein Aung if the ministry would consider giving compensation for confiscated lands, the deputy minister said those lands were confiscated in line with procedures in 1994, and therefore there was no plan to provide compensation.

The defense budget for 2017-18 fiscal year was set at more than 2.0 trillion kyats, which is 13.59 percent of the total Union budget, according to the deputy minister.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.