The Ministry of Union Government Office, the Ministry of Construction and the Central Bank of Myanmar presented their 4th-year performances in press briefings in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
Ministry of Union Government Office
Deputy Minister for Union Government Office U Tin Myint said that the ministry is putting emphasis on reform processes of the General Administration Department to implement people-centred development projects and perform effective services as per the motto of ‘Transition starts with GAD’, is functioning with four objectives of securing rule of law, community peace and tranquility, implementing government policies, realizing better administrative system and carrying out the people-centred regional development tasks, as well as setting up the people-centred better administrative system.
The main functions of GAD are land administration tasks, the management in excise, the collection of four kinds of revenues, the systematic formation of towns and villages, the village development tasks, the systematic registration of associations and organizations, the honouring titles, decorations and medals, and the managing of the immovable properties. Moreover, the GAD is performing the duties assigned by the President’s Office, the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government and other ministries.
In the 4th-year period, the department completed 175 cases of land transfer, and issued 16,237 land grants, and 102 land grants for religious purpose and 52 ordination hall with tax exemption.
The GAD is collecting excise duty, land revenue, dam, embankment, levee and reservoir revenues, and mineral taxes. Over 71 per cent out of the estimated tax could be collected from October 2019 to May 2020.
‘One Stop Shops’ of the GAD in townships are providing services from 27 different sorts of units with 156 varieties of necessities of the public. In 2019 , a total of 1,399,074 services were offered to the public. The Mobile Service Delivery was offered during 1,865 field trips in 2019 and that the total number of services stood at 196,115 in remote villages.
The Ministry of Union Government Office is performing as the focal ministry in the central committee for solving land confiscation cases, and a total of 113,609. 242 acres of lands could be transferred.
The GAD has established its offices in all the towns and townships across the country, and the Region/State-level GAD officers are the secretaries of Region/State governments.
The Union Minister for Government Office is the member of National Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19 and the secretary of COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee.
Officers and staff members of GAD are participating in COVID-19 measures and relief works, scrutinizing of returnees from foreign countries and sending them back home in coordination with the local governments, Hluttaw representatives, health workers, departmental officials and volunteers.
The ministry is providing effective services to the people in implementing a good governance in line with the government’s motto ‘Together with the people’.
Director-General of General Administration Department U Myint Than explained land management measures, dispute settlements, and transfer of unused lands by the ministries and organizations.
He also talked about issuing licences in excise management, increasing duty of this sector, formation of task forces at different levels and the ways of management and administration.
Based on the facts from field trips and oversea visits, the GAD has drafted its reform plan in 2019 that connects the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030), and its has also adopted the 6 areas and 15 targets based on 3 prioritized plans.
Deputy Permanent Secretary U Htet Aung explained implementation of the GAD Reform Framework (2019) and its implementation during the COVID-19 crisis.
Deputy Minister U Tin Myint and officials replied to the questions of media personnel on the issues of loan plan for staff members during COVID-19 period, legal actions against civil services officers and staff members who have shares in private companies to prevent conflicts of interest between the state duties and their businesses, inspecting the lists of food supplies for grassroots people in regions and states, addressing challenges on administrative sectors in Rakhine State, demarcation of border aeras and land confiscation cases.
Ministry of Construction
Deputy Minister for Construction Dr Kyaw Lin held talks on the 4th-year performances of the ministry to the media. He said that the Building Department has submitted the draft of Building Construction Industry Development Law to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, it will be published for the whole country after it has been approved by the Hluttaw.
Moreover, the ministry and the Myanmar Engineering Society are working together to produce English translation of the Myanmar National Building Code with the help of UN-Habitat, and the tasks has been completed up to 95 per cent.
Manuals of construction, fire and other safety measures are being drawn with the assistance of Korea.
The Deputy Minister also explained the works of Road Department and Bridge Department in the 4th year of government. The ministry increased traffic safety measures on Yangon-Mandalay highway. The number of vehicles used on this highway was around 3,000 in 2016, making over 700 traffic accidents and 170 death tolls per year. Although the number of daily vehicles on this highway increased to 5,000, the accidents and death tolls declined to 500 and 108 respectively in one year.
The Road Department has reduced 50 per cent charged at the 86 tolls for six months from 1 June to 30 November 2020.
The Department of Urban and Housing Development has drawn urban development projects in 21 townships this year, and is working together with international organizations for urban development plans, including constructions of 1,144 units of apartment in Yangon Region and 676 units of apartment in Ayeyawady Region. A total of 2,538 units of staff quarter were constructed in regions and states, and 676 in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay. The Korea Myanmar Industrial Complex (KMIC) is also under construction together with the Land and Housing Corporation (LH) from Korea.
The Department of Village Department is working for completion of 90 per cent rural roads with the total lengths of over 55,000 miles by 2030. In his Myanmar New Year Message on 17 April 2018, the President said that the Ministry of Construction will construct about 600 miles of rural roads. The ministry constructed 2,257 miles of road in 2018-2019 financial year, along with 540 concrete bridges, 22 wooden bridges, 17 Bailey bridges, 86 suspension bridges and 1,410 Box Culverts.
Deputy Minister Dr Kyaw Lin explained construction of Gwa-Ngathaingchaung sea-side road which will help development of more hotel zones close to the beaches along the 100-mile-long concrete road with 24-ft width.
The Deputy Minister and officials answered to the media on matters related to rental apartment of retired civil service staff in Nay Pyi Taw, construction of temporary shelters for the returnees at Hla Phoe Khaung Transit Centre, Myitkyina-Sumprabum road, construction of roads and bridges in Rakhine State, the release of construction workers from arrest, time of inauguration of Paletwa bridge, participation of ministry in One Belt, One Road project, and damages of construction machinery in the armed conflicts.
Central Bank of Myanmar
Deputy Governor U Soe Min explained the 4th-year performance of the Central Bank of Myanmar. He said the CBM sets policies for interest rates to meet the monetary reserve target, setting the minimum reserve requirement for banks to deposit in the CBM, and implementing various financial policies such as Open Market Operations.
The CBM lowered the interest rate policy in 2020 from 7 to 3 percent to support businesses and lowered the minimum interest rate on deposits to 5 percent and maximum interest rate for loans taken with collateral approved by the CBM to 10 percent as well.
The CBM reduced the minimum reserve requirement for banks during the COVID-19 pandemic from 5 to 3.5 percent and also calls for deposit auction and credit auction, treasury bills and treasury bonds auction, and FX intervention in the Interbank FX Market.
The CBM has been calling deposit auctions every fortnight since September 2012 but has temporarily suspended deposit auctions starting from 26 March this year to assist banks during these times.
The CBM issued rules for international transactions to promote legal transactions while eliminating illegal ones. They also issued directives that allow foreigners living in Myanmar and those abroad to trade stock from officially listed companies on the Yangon Stock Exchange. An order was issued on 15 May 2020 to prevent loss of currency due to the usage and trade of digital currency by people within the nation.
The CBM has approved the opening of 27 private banks and 1931 bank branches as of April 2020 and approved the opening of 13 foreign bank branches starting from April 2015 to accommodate the increased trade and investment in the country.
The CBM approved of foreign banks owning more than 35% of joint-ventures with domestic banks starting from January 2020, has completed the third foreign bank selection process, and allowed 7 foreign bank branches to also operate subsidiaries starting from 9 April 2020. The CBM has also allowed 29 Non-Bank Financial Institutions to open up so that businesses and the general public have another source of access to financial support.
The CBM approved of 12 private banks to operate through agents using mobile technology for locations that are unable to open a bank branch till the end of April 2020. They also approved 4 mobile network operators and a non-bank financial institution to provide mobile financial services.
The CBM has conducted on-site examinations and inspections on whether banks adhere to the Central Bank of Myanmar Law and Financial Institution Law in addition to off-site monitoring of bank reports. Previous examinations on banks were compliance-based and the CBM issued guidelines on the reporting mechanism for news and information on loans. This was meant to increase opportunities to take out loans from banks, provide SMEs with means to acquire loans for their businesses, and promote Myanmar’s lending industry. The formation of the loan information department will allow financial organizations to share information and reduce concentration risk.
The CBM is committed to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism and strictly regulates and inspects banks and other financial organizations or institutions under its supervision in addition to providing training on AML/CFT management of potential losses.
With the help of the World Bank, the CBM was able to draft the National Payment System Strategy (2020-2025) to make payment systems and accounting systems for efficient while supporting fiscal stability and economic development. They are currently working on the necessary legal framework and National Payment System Bill.
The CBM regularly issues annual reports, quarterly financial statistics bulletin, and monetary policy report that can be easily viewed on its website at www.cbm.gov.mm.
Director-General of the Financial Institutions Supervision Department Daw Than Than Swe replied to a question about gambling dens across the nation operating with digital currencies. She said the CBM is taking action against this by interviewing organizations that are involved in the process, cooperating with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Myanmar Police Force, and filing lawsuits.
Director-General of the Foreign Exchange Management Department Daw May Toe Win explained how cryptocurrencies and digital currencies are not legal tender and their use can cause financial losses to the nation, which is why the CBM issued a notification regarding them in May 2019.
She said trading in digital currency can be acted upon under Section 38 of the Foreign Exchange Management Law. Trading Bitcoin and other digital currency in Kyats without a business licence is a breach of Section 159 of the Financial Institutions Law and can be acted upon under Section 171.
The CBM officials then answered to questions raised by the media on printing additional banknotes with the image of Bogyoke Aung San within this government’s term, the situation of the American Dollar during the COVID-19 pandemic, having foreign bank branches reopening on time, the CBM’s actions against money laundering, implementing a QR system on payment systems, and how the CBM is fulfilling the Union Government’s deficit with loans.
The press conference on the Union Government’s 4th-year performances will continue with the Ministry of Information, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on 17 June. —Han Myo Soe, Kaytar (Translated by Aung Khin, Zaw Htet Oo)