In the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw session yesterday, officials from two ministries answered questions on foreign loans and MPs discussed a report from the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission for 2017.
Firstly, the Hluttaw put on record President U Win Myint’s travel record to Singapore and a letter of appointment from the President’s office assigning Colonel Than Tun Aung to Sagaing Region’s Ministry of Security and Border Affairs.
Next, Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win submitted a bill from the union government amending the National Budget Use Law.
Ministries explain use of foreign loans in detail
The Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Education then explained the use of foreign loans obtained with approval from the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw in their projects up till 31 March 2017.
Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung explained that his ministry acquired foreign loans and used them in 11 projects during the first Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s term and for three projects during the second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s term. The projects are classified as nine projects for the transport sector and five projects for the communication sector. The Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems has acquired US $100 million in foreign loans for use in the Ayeyawady Integration River Basin Management Project from 2015-2020.
The union minister said the department has also obtained a loan from South Korea to finance the construction of the Twantay Canal Development Project. The canal was initially constructed in 1970, but the area is under threat from a collapsing riverbank. The union minister said no money from the loan was used yet, and the project period is from 2018 to 2024.
Other projects on the list that are financed by foreign loans include expanding the Yangon port into the Thilawa area, upgrading the Yangon-Mandalay railway, purchasing and repairing locomotives and other related machinery, purchasing 100 passenger cars (rail), developing the communications sector, and expanding the GSM/UMDS mobile network.
Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi explained that his ministry had three projects financed by foreign loans with approval from the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. Two foreign loans of $60 million and $20 million are being used to provide financial support to schools to reduce dropout rates and increase actual learning among students. The ministry has also obtained a $98-million loan from the Asian Development Bank for capacity-building projects for youth working in the Department of Educational Research, Planning and Training, the Department of Technical, Vocational Education and Training, the Department of Basic Education, and the Ministry of Industry.
MPs discuss Human Rights Commission; suggests adding ordinary citizens to MNHRC
Next, the MPs discussed a report from the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission for 2017.
U Tun Myint of Bahan constituency suggested a stricter and more direct approach to deal with violations of human rights instead of simply referring the cases to relevant departments. He also suggested adding people who valued human rights and representatives of civil society organisations (CSO) as members of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.
U Khin Cho of Hlaingbwe constituency suggested holding annual seminars and workshops to spread human rights awareness and information throughout the states and regions. He explained that in 2015, some 1,778 of the 2,598 submitted cases of human rights abuse were resolved, while in 2016, all 2,094 submitted cases were resolved. However, in 2017, only 106 cases were submitted, and though they were all resolved, the number of cases for that year was only five per cent of the total submitted cases from the previous years. U Khin Cho said it was worrying if the number of cases that dropped was due to people opting to not report violations of human rights. He said more efforts must be made to inform the public of when and how to report human rights abuses.
The report was further discussed by 12 MPs. The fifth day of the next eighth regular Pyidaungsu Hluttaw session will be held on 28 May.
Myo Myint, Aung Ye Thwin (MNA)