Rangoon to Reform Municipal Body in 2017

By San Yamin Aung & Wai Wai Lwin 8 December 2016

RANGOON — The Rangoon regional government will review all the city municipal’s laws and by-laws and reform the structure of the municipal body next year, according to a regional minister.

Rangoon’s Karen ethnic affairs minister Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said that the instruction came from the Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi after her official visit to Singapore from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

“We will redraw all the city’s municipal laws soon and reform all 23 departments under the [municipal] body,” she said at a forum organized by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on Wednesday in Rangoon. The State Counselor’s statement was offered in reply to stakeholders of the tourism industry who questioned the government’s plan to regulate guesthouses that host foreign travelers without proper licenses.

Hotels and tourism law bans unlicensed guesthouses and guesthouses that operate with municipal permits from accommodating foreign travelers. Only hotels which apply for licenses from the ministry are allowed to host tourists.

Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said that as the administrative body had failed to monitor guesthouses closely, many owners still accepted such guests without proper conditions for accommodation.

She said the regional government would issue new regulations to clamp down on illegal guesthouses. Licenses allowed by the hotels and tourism ministry and the municipal body will be reviewed when they redraw the municipal laws.

Though the details of the municipal body’s planned reforms remain unclear, the minister said that the changes would address Rangoon’s major problems in the hotels and tourism sector and regarding worsening traffic congestion.

During her time in Singapore, the State Counselor visited the Ghim Moh Hawker Center & Market, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Singapore’s Asian Civilization Museum and also met with both Singaporean officials and the Burmese community living and working there.

Speaking at the IE Singapore’s Global Conversations business dialogue, she made a particularly surprise remark: “In 20 years’ time, Myanmar will have overtaken Singapore and you will help us.”

The reforms to the municipal body of the Burma’s commercial capital would be the first significant step toward such new developments.

Naw Pan Thinzar Myo said that with the assistance of the Singapore government, the Singaporean experts will come to Rangoon in January to redraw the commercial capital’s municipal law.