This Week in Parliament (Jan. 30-Feb. 3)

By The Irrawaddy 4 February 2017

In the Lower House, lawmaker U Thein Htun of Irrawaddy’s Thabaung Township urged the Union government to consider adjusting agricultural taxes—like land and irrigation taxes—on farmers to reduce their burden, saying that the taxes had not been changed in 80 years. Parliament approved discussion of the proposal.

In the Upper House, NLD lawmaker Daw Nwe Nwe Aung of Mon State Constituency 2 asked if the judiciary had a plan to formulate effective emergency responses to prevent the sexual abuse of children. Supreme Court Judge U Soe Nyunt said the Supreme Court has ordered district courts, which are vested with the authority to deliver up to 20 years’ imprisonment in such cases, to try more child rape cases.

In the Union Parliament, officials submitted a taxation draft law, national planning draft law, and budget draft law for discussion. The President’s Office, Union Government Office, Union Parliament Office, Lower House Office and Upper House Office explained their proposed budgets to Parliament.

Tuesday, Wednesday (Jan. 31, Feb. 1)

The remaining Union level agencies and ministries explained their proposed budgets to the Union Parliament. There was no session at the two houses.

Thursday (Feb.2)

In the Lower House, Arakan National Party lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai of Rathedaung Township submitted a proposal to amend Article 376 of Burma’s Penal Code, calling to impose the death penalty against those who are convicted of child rape. The Lower House voted not to discuss the proposal as her proposed amendment was written in Burmese while the original provisions were written in English.

Fifteen lawmakers debated NLD lawmaker A Zin Latt from Shwebo’s proposal, which urged the Union government to adopt and implement a national plan to effectively tackle and prevent the sale of unhealthy foods with chemical dyes in markets across Burma including school cafeterias. Parliament approved discussion of the proposal.

In the Upper House, lawmakers asked the government about its plan for water and electricity supplies in their respective constituencies in Mon, Chin and Shan states and Bago and Magwe divisions.

Friday (Feb.3)

In the Lower House, seven lawmakers debated a proposal from lawmaker U Myint Oo of Thanatpin Township that urged the Union government to end contracts with private rubber growers who grow rubber in the Kandawgyi watershed area in Bago town and designate it as a forest reserve for sustainable development. Parliament approved the proposal.

Upper House lawmaker U Maing Naing of Sagaing Constituency 12 asked if the government had a plan to reclaim lands for agricultural purposes and design socio-economic development plans for the Naga Self-Administered Zone, which lags behind in development. Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kya asked the lawmaker to request funds from the Sagaing Division government, saying that the ministry would provide necessary technical assistance.

Daw Nawsar Mu of Karen State Constituency 11 asked if the Union government had a plan to provide farmers with tractors for free, at half price or in installments. The deputy minister for agriculture, livestock and irrigation said the ministry has been supplying tractors through installment payments for more than three years, but that it is not financially sound enough to provide them for free or at half price.

In the Union Parliament, government officials explained the president’s proposal to spend 3.6 billion kyats (US$2.6 million) from the government’s reserve funds for socio-economic development works in Arakan State, and to obtain a loan of 10.8 billion yen from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the overhaul of hydropower plants.