NAYPYITAW — The Education Ministry has suspended its project to construct about 6,000 educational facilities including basic education schools across the country due to budget constraints.
The government had already granted a budget for the project but since new President U Win Myint increased the pay for civil servants in April, the Education Ministry no longer has the budget to pay the additional amount to its some 400,000 staff and has to use funds that were designated for the construction project, said deputy education minister U Win Maw Tun.
The deputy minister explained the suspension of building schools on Tuesday at the Lower House of Myanmar’s Parliament as some lawmakers talked about the requirements of schools in their constituencies.
“We have a deficit of 100 billion kyats to pay the ministry staff. And we are not allowed to ask for extra funds because it is the six-month interim budget,” the deputy minister told The Irrawaddy.
“So, we have to postpone the project,” he added.
The new government has set a new timeframe for the country’s fiscal year starting on October 1 and ending on September 30, replacing the April 1- March 31 timeframe.
It then set the interim budget for the transitional period of six months from April 1 to September 30, which was approved by the Parliament in March before the President announced the pay increase on April 17 that saw the salary of staff increase by 20 percent and that of officials by 10 percent.
The Education Ministry however has proposed to resume the project in the 2018-19 fiscal year, he said.
“We’ve had to reduce the budget for some construction works because of constraints. And some of the construction works have not even started yet. But we’ll ask for funds for all of the projected schools in the 2018-19 fiscal year,” he said.
Businessmen who won the tender for construction of schools are not happy with the suspension, said lawmaker U Aung Hlaing Win of Mingalardon Township in the Lower House.
“Tender winners are waiting to get money. It usually costs a businessmen around one million kyats to win a tender for a school building. Some tender winners have already started building,” said U Aung Hlaing Win, who saw the construction of four schools suspended in his constituency.
According to U Aung Min, chairman of the Lower House Bill Committee, there are one million civil servants in Myanmar and the Education Ministry alone has over 450,000 staff.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.