Four More National Committees Formed

By Tin Htet Paing 22 June 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s President Htin Kyaw has formed four national-level committees for transportation, water resources, land use policy and foreigner supervision, chaired by two vice-presidents and two union ministers, according to a statement released by the President’s Office today.

The four committees: the Implementation Committee for National Transport Master Plan; National Committee for Water Resources; Central Committee for Vacant Land Management; and Central Committee for Foreigner Supervision, were signed into formation by the president on Monday.

The controversial military-backed vice-president Myint Swe will chair the 19-member Foreigner Supervision Committee, which will be responsible for adopting policies and drafting appropriate laws for foreigners living in and visiting the country. The chief of police and the director-general of the immigration department will both act as secretaries.

The 21-member Water Resources Committee will be chaired by ethnic Chin vice-president Henry Van Thio and will include several union ministers, the mayors of Naypyidaw, Rangoon and Mandalay, and a hydrology expert. It will be responsible for drafting a strategy for, and implementing, an integrated water resources management system, and developing a national policy for water resources.

The Transport Committee will be chaired by transport and communications minister Thant Zin Maung, and joint chaired by the ministers of national planning and finance, and construction. The 22-member committee is responsible for analyzing the master plan and financial sources, specifying project priorities and time frames, allocating annual financial budgets for projects, seeking loans from foreign countries and collaborating with international organizations.

Lastly, the Vacant Land Management Committee will be chaired by the union minister of agriculture, livestock and irrigation, Aung Thu. The 18-member committee will handle land use proposals for agriculture, livestock and minerals in line with the country’s existing laws. The land use policy in Burma is complex due to past instances of land grabbing and customary land use practices in ethnic areas. The committee includes the director-general of the President’s Office and two military-controlled offices—the Home Affairs Ministry’s General Administration Department and the office of the Quartermaster-General.

The previous administration, under former President Thein Sein, annulled 112 national committees on March 29, just before transferring power to President Htin Kyaw. The new government has formed multiple national committees during the last three months, including the Committee for the Prevention of the Recruitment of Minors in Military Service, the Preparatory Committee for the 21st Century Panglong Conference and the Committee for Arakan State Peace, Stability and Development.