Saturday, August 19, 2017

Defence takes biggest slice of greenlit supplementary budget

With relatively minor trims applied to a swathe of ministries, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw has approved the supplementary budget requested by the Union Government to cover the remaining five months of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Parliament has passed the K1.35 trillion supplementary budget with moderate trims spread around several ministries. Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo / The Myanmar TimesParliament has passed the K1.35 trillion supplementary budget with moderate trims spread around several ministries. Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo / The Myanmar Times

The December 13 decision cuts the spending requested by 10 ministries, including nearly half the amount requested the foreign ministry run by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as foreign minister. Cuts were also applied to requests made by the Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. The Central Bank was served the largest reduction, with K54.6 billion dropped from its K130 billion request. The K417 billion supplement requested by the defence department was not cut.

In all, parliament cut K70 billion, or 5.1 percent of the supplementary budget request totalling K1354 billion.

The cuts included K1 billion from the K2.020 billion sought by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for housing and medical expenses of the country’s ambassadors. “We will economise by reducing travel costs,” said Minister of State U Kyaw Tin.

Hluttaw cut the submission of Ministry of Home Affairs to build prison cells, reducing the K36.9 billion capital expenditure request by K9 billion. “From the proposed capital expenses for repairing prison cells and constructing a new building for Myanmar Police Force, regional and state police stations, hluttaw cut K9078.184 million for 54 new buildings,” said deputy minister General Aung Soe.

From the K3.5 billion request proposed by the Ministry of Border Affairs, MPs cut K592 million, equivalent to US$500,000 from India and the same amount from other foreign donors, said Deputy Minister General Than Htut.

The request for K99 million for the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population was reduced by more than K21 million, and the K132 million sought by the industry ministry was cut by K25 million. The ministry would therefore reduce the K500 daily meals allowance for 555 of the 1746 trainees attending classes at six industrial training schools, said industry minister U Khin Maung Cho.

The Ministry of Education suffered a K247 million cut from its capital budget request for K50.946 billion. Minister Dr Myo Thein Gyi, accepting the decision, said the funds had been earmarked for the Mandalay Technology University library.

Hluttaw cut K35 million from the capital expenditure budget of K1.238 billion and K40 million from the normal expenditure request for K228.436 billion submitted by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, though deputy minister U Maung Maung Win said the ministry might renew its request next year.

Industry Minister U Khin Maung Cho, speaking for the ministry of construction, said he accepted parliament’s decision to cut K261 million from the regular expenditure request for K1.3 billion and the K2.3 billion cut from the capital expenditure request for K50.257 billion. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement saw its request for K521 million cut by K20 million.

State-owned economic entities owned by the transport and communications ministries lost K561 million from their request for K21.289 billion. Among other cuts, Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee lost K1.594 billion from the K4.690 billion it sought, and K54.668 billion in regular expenditure was cut from the K130.254 billion sought by the Central Bank.

That amount of K54.668 billion should now be deducted from government revenue, said bank deputy governor U Soe Min. “That figure was included in the supplementary budget based on profits made in 2015-2016 fiscal year. It should therefore be reduced accordingly,” he said.

Translation by Zar Zar Soe, Khine Thazin Han, San Layy and Win Thaw Tar