This Week in Parliament (December 12-16)

By The Irrawaddy 17 December 2016

Monday (Dec. 12)

In the Lower House, U Min Thein of Taungdwingyi Township asked about the renovation of pagodas that were damaged by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Bagan in August. Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture U Aung Ko said they would be renovated according to a priority list based on cultural, historical, and architectural value. He added that 36 significant pagodas would be given top priority and their renovation would take three to five years.

Lower House lawmakers donated their day’s allowances, totaling 8,502,000 kyats (about US$6,000), to locals in Shan State displaced by recent clashes between four ethnic armed groups and the Burma Army.

In the Upper House, U Khin Maung Latt of Sagaing Division (9) asked if the Burmese government would talk to the Indian government about demolishing parts of a border fence that the Indian government constructed against the provisions of a bilateral border agreement. The deputy minister of foreign affairs replied that his ministry has asked the Indian government to remove illegal border fences through diplomatic means and that his ministry had proposed erecting additional border posts to avoid similar cases in the future.

Daw Khin Swe Lwin of Chin State Constituency (9) asked the government about its plan to provide women with access to maternal health information regarding reproduction, family planning and pregnancy. Union Minister for Health Dr. Myint Htwe said his ministry would soon take action to equip and deploy midwives on a national scale and put greater efforts into educating would-be mothers and mothers in ethnic languages.

Tuesday (Dec. 13)

The Union Parliament approved additional budgets for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The extra funds requested by all of the ministries amounted to almost US$1 billion but Parliament cut about $52 million before final approval.

The Union Parliament also approved the president’s proposal to obtain ¥94 billion (US$800 million) in loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for implementation of projects. The loans will be used by the ministries of construction, agriculture, livestock and irrigation, electric power and energy, and the Rangoon municipality.

Wednesday (Dec. 14)

In the Lower House, Daw Mar Mar Khaing of Thaton Township urged the Union government to take a tough stance on illegal gambling. Ten lawmakers debated her proposal and it was recorded by Parliament.

Daw Khin San Hlaing of Pale Township asked the government if it would prescribe suitable penalties for child molesters, and if it would organize widespread educational programs to attract public participation in fighting against child rape cases. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe said his ministry was working to ensure punishments fit related crimes, while concerned ministries were reviewing the child law and designing a new law for the prevention of sexual violence against women.

Lawmaker U Myint Lwin of Twante Township asked if the government had a plan to abolish labor camps across Burma. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe said his ministry had no plan to abolish them, arguing that such camps were no longer labor camps, but in 2013 were turned into agricultural and vocational training camps for inmates.

In the Upper House, Dr. Arkar Moe of Karen State (7) accused the leadership of the Myanmar International Cooperation Agency (MICA), which the previous government formed in 2012 with the intention of promoting the meat and fish industry as well as food sufficiency, of promoting self-interest instead of serving the interests of the country. He called for abolishing the MICA and asked the government what it would do with farmlands, factories and businesses confiscated by MICA. Parliament accepted his debate proposal.

Thursday (Dec. 15)

In the Union Parliament, 18 lawmakers debated the President’s proposal to join the Asean Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Parliament approved the proposal.

Friday (Dec. 16) 

In Union Parliament, 10 lawmakers debated the President’s proposal to obtain a loan of €50 million from Poland’s government for the Fire Services Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Parliament will decide at a later date.

Nine lawmakers debated the president’s proposal to obtain a loan of US$56.8 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation for agricultural development projects in the eastern states. Parliament will decide at a later date.