Burma

Yangon Municipality Requests $1M for Official Cars Amid Mounting Urban Woes

By San Yamin Aung 22 May 2019

YANGON—The Yangon City Development Company (YCDC) has requested a budget from the regional government to purchase 45 vehicles for the heads of its task forces and advisors, which would amount to at least 1.5 billion kyats (US$975,000).

The Irrawaddy has learned that the YCDC has requested to buy 20 double cab and 25 saloon vehicles with price tags ranging from 35 to 50 million kyats.

Yangon Region Lawmaker U Kyaw Zay Ya posted on his personal Facebook account on Wednesday, writing that he was surprised to see the request. He is a member of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which is reviewing the Public Budget, in which departments have to submit their expected expenditures for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Under a new law enacted in 2018, the YCDC has seven authorities (or task forces) responsible for areas such as urban development, construction, road-building, water supply, as well as three departments for public relations, security and finance. Each authority has five members with three external advisors.

U Kyaw Zay Ya told The Irrawaddy the new cars should be for work-related travel purposes for the YCDC’s six newly-elected committee members only, meaning that only six cars should be needed. The municipal body’s leading committee is made up of 11 members, five of whom—including the city mayor—are appointed by the government, while the remaining six are elected.

“It’s a shame for the YCDC to focus on cars rather than city development projects for the betterment of the people,” he said.

Currently, Yangon is struggling with numerous urban problems inherited from the military regime and previous government which both lacked urban planning and regulation enforcement. A weak regulatory framework at the time led to a boom in construction projects which caused wide variations of the population density across Yangon, causing social, commercial and infrastructural problems for its residents.

For all of its former grandeur—the old capital was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia—Yangon today is a city of dysfunction and neglect. Monsoon rains regularly leave parts of the city inundated; commute times have dramatically increased as roads have become congested by growing numbers of taxis and private vehicles; sidewalks are disappearing to make way for parking spaces.

Normally, the Public Accounts Committee suggests budget cuts if it thinks the submitted expected expenditures are overstated. If not settled, the issue is discussed at the regional parliament.

In June 2018, the Yangon regional government requested a budget to purchase 10 Ford vehicles at a cost of 1 billion kyats for use by the government ministers. At the time, a number of regional lawmakers voiced fierce opposition to the plan, insisting that priority should be given to the needs of the general public rather than the purchase of official vehicles. The request was forwarded to the Union Parliament for a final decision, however it was rejected in September.

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