NLD Questions on Privatization ‘Disgrace’ Govt: Information Minister

By San Yamin Aung 29 February 2016

RANGOON—Burma’s information minister Ye Htut has said that a National League for Democracy (NLD) MP’s proposal to examine the rapid privatization of state-owned land disgraced the existing government.

“Frankly speaking, we think that pointing fingers at the predecessors, without thinking about what they should do in the future, will bring nothing but displeasure with one another,” Ye Htut said.

He said that the Parliament should draw upon lessons from the previous term and then focus on matters related to the new government, which will take office in early April.

NLD MP Khin San Hlaing submitted an urgent proposal to the Lower House of Parliament on Thursday calling on the outgoing government to scrutinize permissions given to sell or lease state-owned facilities and projects to private companies. She also criticized the forced removal of squatters on land affected by such transactions.

Government officials did not appear before Parliament though they were invited to respond to the allegations. On Friday, shortly after Lower House MPs voted to approve the proposal, the information ministry announced the suspension of 68 projects, including unfinished buildings and factories.

Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy that officials’ attendance in Parliament would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

“It will depend on the case. We will discuss the cases which are in the national interest. But for some cases, like that of Daw Khin San Hlaing’s proposal, they can ask the transition committee which was formed to oversee the power transfer,” said Ye Htut.

“But they didn’t ask and talk [about it] at the Parliament, so it seems they acted to disgrace the existing government,” he added.

Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy on Friday that each ministry had planned to announce and transfer suspended projects to the next government at the end of this month. However, Khin San Hlaing’s proposal, which he claimed included false information, pushed the officials to release the list earlier.

“We have nothing to hide. We are already prepared to hand over systematically to the next government,” he said.

Critics have said that officials’ absence in Parliament demonstrated disrespect to the legislature and the voting populace.

Khin San Hlaing told lawmakers during Friday’s parliamentary session that the proposal was not intended to create misunderstanding but to give responsible officials a chance to explain the issue of privatization from their own point of view.