Four New Ministries Created in President's Office

By Nyein Nyein, Reform 4 September 2012

Burma’s parliament on Tuesday approved the formation of four new ministries within the President’s Office while at the same time voting to close the Ministry of Myanmar Industrial Development, and amalgamate the Ministries of Electricity 1 and 2 into one office.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy after Tuesday’s parliamentary session, Upper House MP Phone Myint Aung from the New National Democracy Party said that the Ministry of the President’s Office is to be expanded from two ministries to six. Four new ministers—Aung Min, Soe Thein, Hla Htun and Tin Naing Thein—were duly appointed last week.

President Thein Sein told Parliament that the four additional ministries would improve efficiency to the ongoing peace processes, as well as in the President’s Office as it moves to approve a foreign direct investment law, and to prepare for Burma’s role as host of the Southeast Asian Games in 2013 and as chair of Asean in 2014.

Nine of the 36 ministers’ posts are still to be filled, though the names of potential candidates have now been put forward. The names of eight deputy ministers have been suggested for promotion, alongside a member of the Civil Service Board and the regional chief of Northern Command Gen. Zay Yar Aung. The vacant posts are at the ministries of construction, social welfare, relief  and resettlement, culture, finance and revenue, labor, tourism, railways, and technology.

All the appointments should be officially announced before the end of this parliamentary session, which is scheduled to conclude on Friday, said MPs.

According to Phone Myint Aung, Tuesday’s session saw the confirmation of more than 50 of the 72 deputy ministers—each of the now 36 ministries boasting two deputies.

In his ongoing Cabinet reshuffle, President Thein Sein proposed to the Parliament two more appointments: one for a new auditor-general; and one as Minister of Defense.

In a presidential letter to the Union Parliament, Thein Sein proposed former Minister of Mining Thein Htike to replace outgoing Auditor-General Lun Maung who resigned from the post last week; and he proposed Lt-Gen Wai Lwin to replace Defense Minister Lt-Gen Hla Min. Wai Lwin was appointed to the Rangoon Regional Parliament just last month.

The president’s recommendations are to be debated among MPs in Friday’s session.

Several MPs told The Irrawaddy that the initial reaction among MPs was negative toward Thein Htike due to the notorious corruption within the Ministry of Mining. Phone Myint Aung said that those who oppose the proposal can air their views on Friday in accordance with the law.

A reshuffling of the Cabinet has been ongoing since last Monday when nine new ministers and 19 new deputy ministers were appointed.