By Nandar Win
Pyidaungsu Hluttaw: working towards a Democratic Federal Union, maintaining checks and balances with all branches of democracy
To strengthen multiparty democracy system in a nation, the role of parliament is very important. The Hluttaw represents the people and amends or repeals laws that are no longer relevant to modern times. They also enact new laws that safeguard the legal rights of all citizens equitably.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw is tasked with the legislative authority of the entire nation and also represents its citizens, enacts laws and ensuring checks and balances with all branches of democracy. This is done in line with stipulations contained in the Constitution and Pyidaungsu Hluttaw laws and bylaws for the benefit of all citizens.
The Second Hluttaws began on 1 February 2016 and will be completed on 31 January 2021 after five years. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw passed its fourth year and has completed its four regular sessions.
In addition to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s main task of enacting new laws, it constantly scrutinizes existing laws and either repeals them or makes amendments to make them more relevant to current times.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw enacted or amended the following laws during its fourth year: the Cultural Heritage Zone Conservation Law, Patent Law, Occupational Safety and Health Law, Consumer Protection Law, Penal Code Amendment Law, Boundary Demarcation Act, Myanmar Engineering Council Law Amendment, Gambling Law, Second Amendment to The Union Civil Service Board Law, Myanmar Literature and Art Copyright Law, Bridges Law, Second Amendment to the Labour Dispute Settlement Law, 2018-2019 Financial Year Union Budget Additional Allotment Law, Amending the Myanmar Investment Law, Tax Management Law, Amending the High Court Judges Council Law, Amending the Bar Council Act, Child Rights Law, Myanmar Telecom Corporation Law, Land Confiscation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Law, Fourth Law Amending Union Judiciary Law, 2019-2020 Financial Year National Budget Law, Educational Research, Planning and Training Law, 2019-2020 Financial Year Union Budget Law, New Plant Variety Protection Law, 2019 Union Taxation Law, Exchange of Terminology Law, Law Amending the Myanmar Stamp Act, Myanmar Medical Degree, Diploma and Certificate Law, Basic Education Law, Safeguard Law on Increased Import, Fifth Amendment to Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, Fifth Amendment to Amyotha Hluttaw Election Law, Fifth Amendment to State/Regional Hluttaw Election Law, Rural Development Law, and National Record and Archive Law.
Among these laws, the Union Government alone can submit the National Planning Law, Union Budget Law, Union Additional Budget Allotment Law, and Union Taxation Law to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw every year so that they can be enacted before the new financial year sets in.
During the Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s fourth year, the assembly successfully appointed Union Election Commission members and reforming union-level ministries.
Within the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, there are committees made up of equal number of members from the Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw bill committees and public accounts committees. They are the joint bill committee, joint public accounts committee, and the Hluttaw representative scrutinizing committee made with suitable members from Hluttaw affairs committees of both sides. They were formed at the first meeting of the Second Hluttaw and carry out Hluttaw matters.
Myanmar Parliamentary Union
To facilitate efficient coordination and legislation matters between the union-level and state/regional-level Hluttaw, the Myanmar Parliamentary Union (MPU) was formed on 1 March 2016. Its members comprise of the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw and the Speakers of state/regional Hluttaws. The MPU held a meeting during the fourth year of the Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw also discussed 22 international conventions and agreements during its fourth year.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw discussed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968 and Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals 1968, sending the two approved memorandums of agreement to the ASEAN Secretary-General office, sending letters of approval of the ASEAN-Hong Kong (China) Free Trade Agreement to all affiliated nations, approving the ASEAN-Hong Kong Investment Agreement, ASEAN Justice Council Contract agreement and signing discussions.
In addition, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw discussed exempting customs, trade tax and special commodity tax of five office vehicles imported for the International Red Cross Committee, Myanmar signing the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in 1974, becoming a member of the ecosystem service and biodiversity international science policy, signing the fourth amending contract to the ASEAN multilateral investment agreement, signing the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, becoming an observation member of the belt and road project’s collaborative tax management system, becoming member to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Improvement of Safety Standards and Inspection for Non – Convention Ships Within ASEAN Member States, the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL PROT 1988), the agreement to elevate the International Anti-Corruption Academy to international level, and the children in armed conflict related agreement.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw also discussed Myanmar signing the Arrangements (MRA) on Type Approval for Automotive Products (APMRA) in ASEAN regions, Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (LLMC 1976) and Protocol of 1996 to amend the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (LLMC PROT 1996), International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bill of Lading (“Hague Rules”), Hague Visby Rules and SDR Protocol, WCO Revised Kyoto Convention, and tax exemptions for importing six Toyota Landcruiser (bullet proof).
The Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw discussed acquiring Yen 38.642 billion for upgrading infrastructure in Myanmar, K1016.818 billion from the Central Bank of Myanmar to fulfill the national deficit between October 2018 to September 2019, Baht 1458.248 million from NEDA for the upgrading electric supply in Yangon Region by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, Euro 35.7 million from France Development Agency for MoEE.
Other loans include Yen 82.273 billion from JICA for Myanmar’’s development plans, Euro 29.96 million from Netherlands’ FMO and ING Bank for water distribution in Mandalay, USD 100 million from World Bank’s International Development Association to provide financial aid for mothers and children under 2 years of age, USD 51.20 million from Asia Development Bank for improving rural roads and communications, USD 185 million from ADB for the response positive human resource development project. Also includes loans of USD 100 million from IDA on inclusive education programme by Ministry of Education, Euro 50 million from Poland government’s ODA waste management project by Yangon City Development Committee.
Myanmar’s Hluttaws increased cooperation with international parliaments in the fourth year and held 12 meetings and workshops with ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and 3 meetings with Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The Joint Coordination Committee was formed on 2 May 2016 to acquire support from international parliaments for Union-level state/regional-level Hluttaws.
International Democracy Day was observed 15 September 2019 and the ceremony was attended by the President, State Counsellor, Vice President U Henry Van Thio, members of union-level institutions, Speakers of state/regional Hluttaws, Hluttaw representatives, political parties, foreign embassies and UN agencies, NGOs, humanitarian organizations, celebrity artistes and students.
The 130 Years of Empowering Parliamentarians marking the 130th year of the IPU was implemented through June 2019 to June 2020 and the 4th anniversary of the Second Hluttaws was observed on 31st January and attended by the President, Hluttaw Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
The Hluttaw Intranet (Share Point) was set up for e-Parliament system to share Hluttaw news and information and was introduced to Hluttaw representatives in May 2019. The ICT Helpdesk Counter was set up during the 13th regular session to aid Hluttaw representatives with their ICT queries.
The Hluttaw will continue to work representing the people and checking and balancing the other branches of government as they head towards another year of serving the nation. (Translated by Pen Dali)