This Week in Parliament (August 7-11)

By The Irrawaddy 12 August 2017

Monday (August 7)

In the Lower House, MP Daw Thandar of Einme Township asked what actions the government would take against the tender winners of the government-funded projects if they failed to meet agreed-upon standards or fulfill their contracts.

Minister for Health and Sports Dr, Myint Htwe replied that the government could decline to accept a project if it failed to meet specifications, ask the tender-winner to incur additional charges to meet standards, or delay fees in the case of a delayed project. They could also confiscate a certain percentage of the performance guarantee for substandard construction and services and blacklist the company if it breaches the rules and regulations, he explained.

The Lower House put on record Twante Township lawmaker U Myint Lwin’s proposal urging the government to establish “library development committees” in cooperation with locals and civil society organizations in each township.

In the Upper House, lawmakers discussed a report from the Health, Sports and Culture Committee. Lawmaker U Kyaw Thaung of Sagaing Region (3) pointed out the lack of funds for the promotion of sports in the country.

Tuesday (August 8)

The Union Parliament approved an exemption from commercial tax on diamonds, emeralds, and gold bars, which are listed as special commodities under the Special Commodities Tax Law. Under the existing law, there is a 45 percent of tax—30 percent tariff, 10 percent special commodities tax, and five percent trading tax—on diamond and emerald imports. Despite the exemption from the commercial tax, the tariff and trading tax will remain, according to Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win.

Wednesday (August 9)

Lower House Speaker U Win Myint urged the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to strictly oversee the issuing of farmland ownership certificates by ministry staff on the ground. According to Deputy Minister U Hla Kyaw, his ministry disciplined a total of 86 of its own staff in connection with corruption and misconduct in issuing farmland ownership certificates to farmers.

The Upper House approved consideration of a proposal put forward by MP U Khin Maung Latt of the Arakan National Party which urged the government to take action against suspected militants in northern Rakhine State under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law and help locals who have fled their homes because of recent killings in the area.

Thursday (August 10)

The Lower House Bill Committee asked to reduce the maximum prison term under Article 66 of the Telecommunications Law, which includes online defamation charges, to less than three years on Thursday.

The Upper House approved amendments of the law on Aug. 2 without reducing the imprisonment term. The amended bill states that those charged under Articles 65, 66(a), (b) and (d) “may” be granted bail, leaving it to the judge’s discretion. A maximum prison term of two years would allow for bail to be more widely granted.

Responding to a question by lawmaker U Min Thein of Magwe Region’s Taungdwingyi Township, Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe pledged to provide legal protections for Myanmar housemaids working abroad without proper documentation.

In Upper House, lawmakers discussed regional development works in their respective constituencies.

Friday (August 11)

In response to a question about the safety of forestry department personnel by U Aye Naing of South Dagon Township, Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation U Ohn Win said his ministry would coordinate with the defense ministry to equip forestry department personnel with arms.

In the Upper House, lawmakers discussed a proposal by U Aung Thein of Bago Region (12), which urged the government to take action against gambling centers that are allegedly operating while disguised as amusement centers in major towns across the country.