Downsizing of Ministries Expected in President-Elect Proposal

By San Yamin Aung 16 March 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s President-elect Htin Kyaw will submit a proposal to lawmakers on Thursday that is expected to shake up the administrative structure of his incoming cabinet by reducing the number of ministries and ministers within the executive branch.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s Union Parliament session, Htin Kyaw will put forward a proposal on the names of ministries and number of ministers to be appointed to serve in his incoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government, which will take power on April 1.

No specifics of the proposal are included in the agenda, which was released on Wednesday, but senior NLD member Win Htein told reporters on March 4 in Naypyidaw that the party planned to reduce the number of ministries that make up the executive to as low as 20, down from the current 36.

“For now, we have six departments at the President’s Office. We will merge all six into one and other ministries too. For example, we can merge rail transportation, road transport, water, airway into one,” Win Htein was quoted in local media as saying.

He also reportedly said NLD members would comprise some 30 to 40 percent of the ministerial posts, with the rest of appointees drawn from other parties and the ranks of Burma’s technocratic class. That would appear to slate seven to nine ministerial posts for NLD members.

Parliamentarians will discuss the proposal on Friday and the list is expected to be approved in the NLD-dominated Union Parliament next week.

Htin Kyaw was elected president by the legislature on Tuesday, and will head an NLD government that party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi has said will be led by her from “above” his post.

That assertion, made in the lead-up to her party’s landslide election victory in November, was made in response to questions about how Suu Kyi would circumvent a constitutional clause rendering her ineligible to become president.

A reduction of government ministries was one pledge put forward in the NLD’s election manifesto, “in order to decrease government expenditure and establish a lean and efficient government.”