Presidential spokesperson explains pensions increase and GAD move

Director-General U Zaw Htay speaks to journalists in the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA
Director-General U Zaw Htay speaks to journalists in the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

A fortnightly press conference was held at Presidential Palace press hall yesterday afternoon.
At the press conference, spokesperson from the Office of the President Director General U Zaw Htay first read the news announcement of the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) dated 21 December.
Next, Director General U Zaw Htay responded to questions raised by the media.
Responding first to a question on the reason why pensions have been increased by 10 to 20 percent Director General U Zaw Htay explained that the matter was approved at a Union Government meeting (cabinet) held on 12 December. After the approval of the cabinet a notification was issued by the Ministry of Planning and Finance on 19 December.
In his Myanmar New Year greetings message delivered on 18 April 2018 President U Win Myint said the Government had calculated and arranged to increase the salaries and wages of public servants by 10 to 20 percent to make it in line with the raising of daily minimum wages to K 4,800.
As per that speech the salaries and wages of public servants were raised 10 to 20 percent on 1 April 2018 and at the same time, pensions of public servants who became pensioners after 18 April 2018 were also increased 10 to 20 percent.
However, there were more than 810,000 pensioners before 18 April 2018 and the pension rates for them had not yet been increased. That was why an announcement was made on 19 December 2018 to increase the pensions of these pensioners by 10 to 20 percent said the Director General. This was to fulfill a pledge made by the President and there was no other reason beyond this, added the Director General.
On the question of whether the General Administration Department (GAD) has been transferred and if so whether it was conducted due to someone’s advice, Director General U Zaw Htay explained that last week when Ko Aung Thuya from BBC raised a similar question asking whether GAD was being transferred to the Office of the President, it was denied because it was not being transferred to that office. GAD was being transferred from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government. Instructions and guidelines have already been made and the transfer was being done according to procedure.
This transfer was due to the appointment of Union Minister U Min Thu to the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government. In his Myanmar New Year speech in 2018, the President had said that arrangements were being made to reduce central control in preparation for a federal union administrative system that would be established in the future.
According to the Constitution the President leads the cabinet in the Union Government. At the Union level, there is a Union Government led by the President. Looking down vertically, there’ll be State/Region Chief Ministers and State/Region ministers. According to the Constitution the State/Region Chief Ministers are accountable to the President. State/Region ministers in State/Region Governments are accountable to the President through the Chief Ministers.
In the administrative pillar there was the President and the cabinet. Vertically below were State/Region/Nay Pyi Taw Council, Chief Ministers. And then the Chief Ministers and the state/region cabinet followed by district and township level administration.
As per the Constitution it would be the President, Chief Minister and administrators. According to this GAD was being transferred to Ministry of the Office of the Union Government.
This was to be in line with the Constitution as well as to be in line structurally as well. This was mentioned in the President’s speech as well. So this was being done to be in accordance with the Constitution and as per the strategic vision of the President’s speech. It was not because someone suggested or insisted.
Some were saying that this was done because someone had suggested and we also heard that. So we want to say clearly that this was not the case. This was done according to the basic principle and reform strategy, to strengthen and make the administrative machinery more effective, said the Director General.— Thuya Zaw (Translated by Zaw Min)

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