Yangon Public Accounts Committee Criticizes Budget Miscalculations

By Thazin Hlaing 28 September 2018

YANGON — The Public Accounts Committee of the Yangon Region Parliament has criticized regional government departments for budget miscalculations.

The committee submitted a report and remarks on the 2018-19 fiscal year budget bill on Wednesday, pointing out that there were large gaps between the possible costs and estimated costs in the proposed budget.

According to secretary Daw Thet Htar Nwe Win of the Public Accounts Committee, the departments get about three months to review the proposed budget after the submission of the first draft to Parliament in June.

“Most of the departments failed to calculate their proposed projects in detail, design their projects in advance, conduct relevant surveys on the ground and calculate estimated costs,” she said.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the report of the Public Accounts Committee, has called for the careful calculation of timeframes, break-even points and cost of projects, adding that failure to undertake feasibility studies could result in unnecessary costs.

According to the findings of the committee, the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) asked for a budget of nearly 1.5 billion kyats for 19 projects, which have already been implemented either by the YESC itself or the Union government.

Moreover, the YESC made some miscalculations in electricity supply projects in the outskirts of Yangon. It overestimated the costs by more than 2 billion kyats in 47 projects and underestimated by more than 650 million kyats in 42 projects.

“It is important that only necessary projects are implemented because the budget is limited, and we have to use it wisely. If the same project is to be implemented in two places, we’ve suggested giving priority to suburban areas. We have made surveys and found that many [proposed] projects are unnecessary,” said Kyauktada Township lawmaker Daw Kyi Pyar.

The Public Accounts Committee also found gaps in budgets proposed by other departments, ranging from 10-100 million kyats.

Yangon regional lawmakers say they are also not happy that the Union Parliament did not scrap a proposed $5 million investment in the Yangon City Bank by the Yangon municipality despite their bitter opposition.

The municipality proposed in June that it would invest the equivalent of US$5 million in kyats in the Yangon City Bank to provide foreign banking services. At that time, the amount was equivalent to 6.8 billion kyats, but with the weakened kyat-dollar exchange rate over the past few months, the amount is now nearly 8 billion kyats.

The Public Accounts Committee called for spending that money on development works of townships in the city if foreign banking is still unnecessary.

“That money should be used for development work instead,” Dagon Township lawmaker U Kyaw Zeya told the regional Parliament.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.