Burma

Myanmar State Counselor Urges Yangon Govt to Be Transparent

By The Irrawaddy 3 February 2020

YANGON—Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has urged the Yangon government, which has faced public criticism of late over its spending, to be transparent in its work.

During her two-day sojourn in Yangon last week, the State Counselor met with regional cabinet members led by Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein on Saturday.

The meeting followed a recent grilling of the Yangon government by lawmakers over spending irregularities in fiscal 2017-18. Their questions were prompted by the most recent report by the regional auditor-general, which revealed that the government’s irregular spending and mismanagement had cost the region millions of kyats, leading to public criticism of the government’s handling of public funds. In 2018, the Yangon government was also bombarded with questions from lawmakers about its opaque expenditures in FY2016-17.

The Irrawaddy has learned that during the meeting, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi raised transparency issues with the regional cabinet members.

“You have to be mindful of the people’s daily lives, and explain [to people] whatever you do,” she said, according to a source who was present at the meeting.

“Don’t ever think that we can just let it go because they [the people] won’t understand what we are doing even if we attempt to explain,” she warned.

According to the source, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t point to a particular incident when raising the transparency issue. However, it is likely she had in mind the Yangon government’s silence—or at least the weakness of its response—in the wake of the criticism over its spending.

The regional government did not respond to lawmakers’ questions about its spending in FY2016-17. Some cabinet members appeared before the parliament last week to defend the spending detailed in the 2017-18 auditor-general’s report, but rather than provide proper explanations they mostly attacked the auditor-general, saying the report had caused “misunderstanding of the regional government.”

Saturday’s meeting was also joined by some Union ministers. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi urged Union and regional ministers to cooperate for the sake of Yangon’s development.

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