This Week in Parliament

By The Irrawaddy 23 May 2020

Monday (May 18)

Union Health Minister Dr. Myint Htwe submitted a bill to Parliament aimed at controlling communicable diseases. The bill is an updated version of the 1995 Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law and is designed to help the government effectively prevent and control communicable diseases and carry out actions in accordance with the rules and regulations of the World Health Organization, he said.

Tuesday (May 19)

Lower House lawmaker U Sai Tun Aye of Shan State’s Mong Hsu Township denounced the government’s move to extend operation of the Tigyit coal-fired power plant in Shan State despite the fact that local residents have long complained about its impacts on their health and environment.

The government gave the go-ahead in 2019 for the plant to continue operation until May 2022. Deputy Minister for Electricity and Energy U Khin Maung Win replied that the plant benefits the country’s electricity sector—an answer that drew the ire of environmentalists.

Wednesday (May 20)

Lawmaker U Tun Tun posed a question about the amount of foreign and local investment in Myanmar between April 2016 and December 2019. Deputy Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Bharat Singh said Myanmar received US$19.5 billion worth of foreign investment and 8.9 trillion kyats (US$6.3 billion) in local investment during that period. A total of 35 countries made investments and Singapore is Myanmar’s biggest investor, with US$9.3 billion, followed by China with $2.9 billion and Hong Kong with $1.8 billion.

Thursday (May 21)

The Union Parliament voted to postpone a national referendum on constitutional change that was expected to cost around 15 billion kyats (US$10.44 million) to carry out.

The referendum is required in order to approve two minor changes to the Constitution’s Article 32(a) and 32(b), which received the required support of more than 75 percent of lawmakers in Parliament in March.

Deputy Planning and Finance Minister U Maung Maung Win and Vice Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) U Bo Bo Nge explained a proposal by President U Win Myint to borrow 1.3 trillion kyats (US$925 million) from the CBM in order to top up for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Friday (May 22)

The Union Parliament approved U Win Myint’s proposal to borrow a US$50 million loan from the World Bank’s International Development Association to fund emergency health care response efforts.

Eleven lawmakers also discussed the president’s proposal to obtain a US$700 million loan to fund the budget deficit. Military-appointed lawmaker Major Aung Naing Oo said Myanmar faces a budget deficit every year and this is not a new problem caused by COVID-19. He urged the government to reduce expenditures and be thrifty.

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This Week in Parliament