This Week in Parliament (August 8-12)

By The Irrawaddy 13 August 2016

Monday August 8

In the Lower House, lawmaker Kyaw Htay representing Leshi Township in the Naga Self-Administered Zone requested that government establish accommodation nationwide for education staff at basic education schools in rural areas who face financial constraints, with priority given to less developed parts of the country. The house approved discussion of the proposal.

Lawmaker Hla Moe presenting Aungmyaythazan Township in the city of Mandalay urged the government to adopt a program to evaluate the educational qualifications of basic education students. The house approved debate on the issue.

In the Upper House, lawmakers debated a proposal from Kyaw Htwe of Rangoon Division Constituency-8 that called on the Union government to develop a comprehensive plan to address annual flooding in the Irrawaddy Delta and coastal areas during the rainy season [June to October], as well as drinking water scarcity across Burma during the hot season [March to May].

Tuesday August 9

In the Lower House, lawmakers debated a proposal from Than Win, representing Rangoon’s North Okkalapa Township, which urged the government to take decisive steps to root out entrenched corruption in Burma.

The Union Parliament promulgated an anti-graft law in August 2013 and established an anti-corruption commission in March 2014, which has been widely criticized as ineffective.

Lawmakers in the Lower House agreed to donate a day’s stipend of 20,000 kyats (US$17) to aid flood relief across the country.

In the Upper House, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Tun Win said, in response to the proposal by lawmaker Kyaw Htwe, that a total of 94 reservoirs for drinking water across eight divisions and states would be re-dug, and that a total of 2,097 water supply projects are planned in 298 townships across Burma for the 2016-17 fiscal year. He said the ministry would continue to dredge rivers, creeks and drains to alleviate flooding in the Irrawaddy Delta. The Upper House put the proposal on record.

In a session of the Union Parliament, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Finance Maung Maung Win explained the circumstances surrounding a proposed US$100 million loan from the World Bank. The speaker invited lawmakers to register to debate over accepting the loan.

The Union speaker informed lawmakers of the nomination by President Htin Kyaw of Bo Bo Nge, a member of the National League for Democracy’s economic team, to the board of directors of Burma’s Central Bank. He asked any lawmakers who objected to the nomination to register for debate.

Wednesday August 10

In the Lower House, 32 lawmakers continued to debate Than Win’s proposal on the elimination of corruption. Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission Mya Win said “a change in attitude” was required both from those officials who received bribes and members of the public who gave bribes. The parliament approved the proposal and the speaker ordered the Bill Committee to review Burma’s anti-graft law.

In the Upper House, Kyaw Ni Naing of Shan State Constituency-11 enquired about the Union Peace Conference—or “21st Century Panglong Conference”—scheduled for later this month. Minister Kyaw Tint Swe of the State Counselor’s Office replied that they expected around 700 representatives drawn from the government, the Burma Army, ethnic armed groups and political parties, among other stakeholders. He said the agenda would be settled at a meeting of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee.

Education Minister Myo Thein Gyi replied to the question raised on Monday about staff-quarters for teachers, saying that 10.156 billion kyats (US$8.57 million) was allocated for the construction of teaching staff-quarters during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years, with priority given to remote areas.

The chairman of the Union Civil Service Board submitted a draft law to the Upper House to amend the current civil service law. The house approved it for debate.

Thursday August 11

In the Lower House, lawmaker Tin Htwe of Pegu’s Waw Township proposed that the government concentrate on modernizing farming methods, stating that increases in yield per acre would help alleviate rural poverty. He cited continued low rice production as an area of concern. The Lower House approved discussion of his proposal.

In the Upper House, lawmakers debated a draft senior citizens law and a draft territorial sea and maritime zones law. Military lawmaker Major Aung Kyaw Phyo stressed the urgency of establishing a firm territorial sea boundary between Burma and Bangladesh, in accordance with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and of reaching a bilateral code of conduct on exploiting resources located near the boundary line.

According to census data released in 2014, there were around 5 million “elderly persons” aged 60 or over in Burma—almost 10 percent of the national population.

Upper House lawmakers agreed to donate a day’s stipend of 20,000 to aid flood relief across the country.

Minister for Education Myo Thein Gyi proposed a draft science, technology and innovation law for debate in the Upper House, which the house duly approved.

Friday, August 12

The Union Parliament approved the appointment of Bo Bo Nge, a member of the National League for Democracy’s economic team, to the Central Bank’s board of directors. No lawmakers had raised any objections, and no debate took place.

Lawmakers started debating President Htin Kyaw’s proposal of accepting a US$100 million loan from the World Bank in order to implement projects under the Myanmar Monetary Sector Development Plan. Discussions will continue next week.