This Week in Parliament (Jan. 22-26)

By The Irrawaddy 27 January 2018

Monday (Jan. 22)

In the Lower House, Mawkmai Township lawmaker U Sai Ngao Hseng Hein asked the government if it planned to adopt a universal and systematic garbage disposal and collection system for the country. U Aung Myint Tun, a member of the Naypyitaw Council, replied that municipalities lacked the funds to establish proper waste management systems. The council member added that the government should treat waste management as a national health issue and cooperate with municipalities.

The Upper House voted down a proposal from Daw Htoot May of Rakhine Constituency (11) to teach four key English-language skills beginning from Grade 9 at government schools. Though English is a compulsory subject for students from primary to matriculation levels at government schools, students’ general English skills are still low, argued the lawmaker. The Union education minister responded that his ministry has been reforming its teaching methods and designing new English textbooks so that students can acquire all four skills to an acceptable level.

Tuesday (Jan. 23)

The Upper House agreed to debate a proposal by U Pe Chit urging the government to recognize the conservation of Myanmar’s shrinking natural resources as a national duty. The lawmaker alleged that the Mines Ministry doesn’t even know how many rubies from the gem-rich town of Mongshu are being smuggled out of the country, and that it is failing to take action against mining companies that don’t pay taxes.

Wednesday (Jan. 24)

U Han Zaw was sworn in as the new construction minister by the Union Parliament, which also approved the president’s proposal to obtain a 5 million euro package of soft loans and grants from Unicredit Bank of Austria to fund public projects.

The package has a term of 25 years. Of the total, 15 per cent is a grant and 85 per cent is to be reimbursed with no interest, according to lawmakers.

Thursday (Jan. 25)

In the Lower House, lawmakers debated and approved a proposal from Dr. Aye Min, a lawmaker from Yangon’s Kayan Township, to recognize civil servants with a record of outstanding performance with awards and entitlements such as overseas trips for recreation and study.

Friday (Jan. 26)

In the Lower House, lawmaker U Sai Thiha Kyaw of Mongyai Township asked whether Parliament would cover the cost of constructing offices for lawmakers in their constituencies, along with providing funds to run the offices (paying for clerks, furniture, utilities, etc.).

Dr. Hla Moe, secretary of the Parliamentary Rights Committee, replied that lawmakers may fund new offices out of their own pockets as the Parliament still cannot finance this. Dr. Hla Moe added that most lawmakers open offices on their own.

Due to the budget deficit, the Parliament for the time being is unable to fund offices for lawmakers in 330 constituencies, he said.