The Irrawaddy

Yangon Parliament Approves New Municipal Law

YANGON — The Yangon regional Parliament approved the new municipal law on Wednesday, successfully barring the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) from engaging in business.

The draft law included dozens of controversial provisions including the formation of YCDC-run business parties responsible for construction, the service industry, recreation and others.

“Parliament was able to successfully remove the whole chapter regarding the formation of YCDC-run businesses. YCDC is not allowed to do business. It will only continue to perform in its original duty of providing services to the public,” said lawmaker U Hla Htay of Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township.

Experts appointed by the regional government and the Yangon municipality drafted the new YCDC Law following a request by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in late 2016. The law was intended to replace the existing 1922 City of Rangoon Municipal Act and to supplement the 2013 YCDC Law.

The bill amending the 2013 YCDC Law was put forward to the regional Parliament on Feb. 2. It will be presented in a week to Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, who will sign it into law.

“It is against democracy for a democratic government to engage in business. The municipality is only intended to provide services to the public and all of the lawmakers do not want it to do business,” said Daw Kyi Pyar, a lawmaker from Kyauktada Township.

It will be difficult for small and medium enterprises to survive in the market economy if the government engages in business, she said.

The regional government asked for nearly 7 billion kyats in its budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year for the municipality’s city bank to expand its banking services.

The new YCDC law also creates a vice mayor position to assist the mayor in managing Yangon. It also abolishes district-level committees and only keeps township-level committees.

It also allows the regional government to form a security and discipline enforcement team. Previously, it had to seek the permission of the Home Affairs Ministry to do so. This suggests that the regional government will be directly responsible for security matters in the future.

Another key amendment is that anyone who is at least 18 years old will be allowed to vote in the municipal poll now. Previously, only one person in a household, usually the breadwinner, was allowed to cast a vote.

The new law also allows anyone who is at least 25 to contest a municipal poll.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.