Director-General U Zaw Htay explains current national situation, including COVID-19 at press meet

Director-General U Zaw Htay speaks during the press meet at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw on 17 July 2020. Photo : Kyaw Ye Swe
Director-General U Zaw Htay speaks during the press meet at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw on 17 July 2020. Photo : Kyaw Ye Swe

Director-General U Zaw Htay of the Department of Union Peace Formation, under the Ministry of Office of State Counsellor, met local and foreign media-persons at the Press Room of the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw at 4 pm on 17 July in accord with the social distancing arrangement, and explained the current situation including the Covid-19 infection.
At the press meet, Director-General U Zaw Htay said this is the second such meeting during the time of Covid-19. Here, the provisions for the grassroots with no regular income will be explained. It is a programme under the CERP. During the Thingyan holidays, five kinds of basic food items were distributed to the grassroots with no regular income for the first time. It cost over Ks 50 billion in providing five kinds of basic food items to four million households during the ten days from 10 to 19 April this year.
Families that were not included in the first distribution for various reasons were listed in the whole country before the start of the second programme to distribute five kinds of basic food items. Then, each household was provided with K15,000. During the 12 days between 27 June and 12 July, over 1.4 million households were provided with K21 billion worth of assistance.
K20,000 each will be presented to over 5.4 million households in the third week of July under the distribution programme for the grassroots with no regular income. The test run of the distribution programme will be conducted in Pobbathiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw, Kalaw Township in Shan State, Meiktila Township in Mandalay Region through mobile payment application. During the fourth distribution programme each of the over 5.4 million households will get K20,000. It will begin in the last week of the coming August.
DG U Zaw Htay then answered the questions raised by the local and foreign media persons about the observance of the tender rules in reclaiming land plots for the low-cost housing project in Nay Pyi Taw, the invitation of the EAOs of the Northern Alliance to the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, the security programme for the elections in Rakhine State, the Government’s process to systematically return the seized farmland back to the original owners (farmers), the response on the involvement of the director-general of the Customs Department and the managing director of the Port Authority in the board of directors of the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, action taken against the distribution of false news, the case of crime reporters, bilateral discussions in connection with the Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia, the report in connection with the Whaikha landslide occurred in Phakant, action taken against senior police officers, investments made by illegal foreigners, the current situation of the Silk Road, the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, the facilitation of news gathering functions at the ministries, anti-Covid-19 measures and the programme to ease the fears of parents in opening the schools, the request for a press conference of the Anti-Corruption Commission and whether the troop deployment of both sides was discussed at the recent JMC-U meeting.
As regards the case of the involvement of the director-general of the Customs Department and the managing director of the Port Authority in the board of directors of the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, the DG said the Union Attorney-General’s Office has made an announcement from the legal point of view that under the sections 10 (f) and 37 of the 2013 Civil Service Personnel Law, their involvement in the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited is illegal. Hence, Managing Director U Ni Aung of the Port Authority have informed the President Office about his resignation from the BOD of the Holdings of his own accord on 6 July. Director-General of Customs Department U Kyaw Htin had already sent an official letter, saying that this letter superseded the previous letter as his appointment at the job was illegal, to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry and the Ministry of Defence.
As regards the government’s preparations for the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, he said the third session was held from 11 to 16 July 2018, and there was a two-year absence till now. But during the two years, the government and EAOs held 10+10 summits. KNU and RCSS issued their own announcements in November. After the issuance of those announcements, the government could restore the correct path through many formal and informal meetings.
The eighth JICM formal meeting was held in Nay Pyi Taw on 8 January 2020 and an eight-point accord was reached. The eight-point accord includes the holding of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong in the first four months of 2020. Initially, the government hoped to hold it before the Thingyan holidays. Discussions were held to reach the accord under the three parts of the Union Peace Agreement made by the JICM meeting held at NRPC in Yangon on 2 and 3 February 2020. The part one is the NCA implementation framework accord, the part two is the implementation of a series of work programmes after the 2020 elections, the part three is the basic principles for the establishment of a Democratic Federal Union, and the decision has already made to hold the Conference and on the estimated date, he said.
The government held meetings with EAOs on 2, 3, 16, 17 and 18 February and 5 and 7 March, during which efforts were made with added momentum for reaching the Union Peace Agreement. Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic on 11 March. UPDJC meeting was held on 12 March, and on the following day, the President Office issued a public announcement on the Covid-19. Positive cases were first found in Myanmar on 23 March. The government met with EAOs on 2 and 3 April, and decided to wait till the end of April, as the Covid-19 prevention period was valid till 30 April. The government will meet with EAOs in the coming week, he explained.
Many of the accords of the sectors of the Union Peace Agreement may be reached there. The taskforce has agreed to hold the conference on 12, 13 and 14 August, and it is agreed to present it to the leaders for approval. The government and the Hluttaw have already agreed it. EAOs and PPSTs also agreed the provisional schedule at a meeting held on 10 July, and informed the government about their decision. So, efforts are being made in accordance with the schedule. The majority of political parties gave a positive response on it. The date will be fixed on 12 and 13 August as initially agreed by the taskforce. The conference will be minimized and a good result is essential. It will be held in accordance with the social distancing rules. The conference will be held at MICC (I) and MICC (II). UPDJC and JICM meetings will be held at the MICC (I), and the MICC (II) will be the venue of the opening and signing ceremony, he said. The media will not be allowed to gather news at the hotels where the representatives of the conferencing are staying, and the reporters may collect news at the press meets from the safe distance. Plans are underway to take group documentary photos in a safe way. The Ministry of Information will assist the media to collect news, the DG said.
As regards the reopening of basic education schools under the directives of the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS), the Covid-19 Prevention, Containment Treatment Central Committee led by the State Counsellor issued guidelines and standard operation procedures (SOPs). The SOPs include the specific rules for the parents and their children, teachers and their students and officials.
In the whole country 6,171 basic education high schools, 1,000 private high schools, and four monastic high schools will be reopened. According to the Ministry of Education, of the nearly 1.6 million high school students, 1.06 million had already enrolled till 14 this month, DG U Zaw Htay said.
The SOP version 1.3 which includes the rules to be observed by the students and teachers before coming to the school, on the school bus, during the break, and at the end of the school hour have already been prepared. So teams will visit the schools and fill the checklist to ascertain whether their safety measures are at the satisfactory level or not. Schools which has made perfect preparations for reopening will be listed at the A level, schools that need additional measures at the B level, and schools with serious deficiencies at the C level, he clarified.
The reopening of the A level schools will be permitted, and each township will have three inspection teams. A team will comprise representatives of the General Administration Department (GAD), the MoHS, MoE, parent-teacher associations and representatives of the local governments.
The teams have been instructed to start their work 17 July. They will examine the safety measures in accordance with the checklist, and the schools whose preparations are found to be perfect and reached the A level will be permitted to open. The inspection teams will revisit the schools in the B and C levels when they have completed their health measures. Members of GAD, fire brigades and social welfare organizations will help prevent the formation of crowds outside the schools. Disagreements are appearing on the social networks in connection with the reopening of the schools. The reopening of private schools which have hostels or linked with hostels, and subjective-wise private schools will not be allowed, he said.—Myo Han Kyaw (Translated by TMT)

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