Govt Asks to Spend Reserve Funds on Arakan State Development

By Htet Naing Zaw 3 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — The government sought the approval of the Union Parliament on Friday to spend nearly 3.7 billion kyats (US$2.7 million) of reserved funds to implement 18 road and bridge construction projects in 16 Arakan State townships.

Deputy minister for Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win and the deputy minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw explained President U Htin Kyaw’s proposal to spend the specified amount in line with Union Budget Law for Arakan State’s socioeconomic development.

The government had 100 billion kyats in reserved funds for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and had allowed the spending of 55.97 billion kyats by the end of January, with just over 44 billion kyats therefore remaining, said U Maung Maung Win.

“We’ll spend from reserved funds for implementing 18 regional development projects in 16 townships,” said deputy minister U Maung Maung Win. “Reserved funds are money reserved in the Union budget for emergency and unexpected cases,” he explained.

The Central Committee on the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of Arakan State has decided to prioritize development works in Arakan State, citing it as critical for the peace and stability of the country, said U Hla Kyaw.

The 27-member committee was formed last May and is chaired by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation will take responsibility for the implementation of the 18 projects, said deputy minister U Hla Kyaw.

Arakanese ethnic lawmaker U Pe Than from the Arakan National Party (ANP) said he was thankful for the allocation, but that the amount was not enough to lay sound foundations for the socioeconomic development of Arakan State.

“It would be better if a separate fund is allocated for peace and development of Arakan State or if the State Counselor’s Office sets up a separate fund. Without spending huge funds, it is difficult for Arakan State to develop, I’m afraid,” said U Pe Than, who represents Myebon Township in Lower House.

“Arakan State has resources. It is rich in natural gas, but is in poverty because of political turmoil. Arakanese people are just demanding to share the profits from those resources. And Arakanese people […] are kept busy solving conflicts,” U Pe Than lamented.

The Parliament accepted a debate of the government’s funding request for Arakan State.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko