Pyidaungsu Hluttaw discusses signing BIMSTEC agreement, calls for greater action on tax revenues

Pyidaungsu Hluttaw holds its 10th-day meeting of 17th regular session on 19 August. PHOTO: MNA
Pyidaungsu Hluttaw holds its 10th-day meeting of 17th regular session on 19 August. PHOTO: MNA

The 10th-day meeting of the 17th regular session of the Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw was held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Firstly, Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin explained the proposal sent by the President of Myanmar to sign the BIMSTEC agreement. He said if the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw approves the proposal then they will send a message to the office of the BIMSTEC Secretary-General signaling Myanmar’s readiness to sign the agreement. He said Myanmar needs to sign the agreement like other nations have done in the upcoming 5th BIMSTEC Summit and the BIMSTEC agreement will come into effect after 30 days from the date of all member nations signing the 7 documents of agreement. He said signing the agreement will strengthen BIMSTEC and allow it to establish itself with integrity.
Next, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Deputy Speaker U Tun Tun Hein called for MPs interested in discussing the proposal to register their names.
This was followed by Hluttaw representatives debating the principles, project progress and expenditure related to the National Project Bill and Union Budget Bill for 2020-2021FY. U Khin Cho from Hlaingbwe constituency said if the estimated revenue is not collected then it can cause complications for slated expenditures and make the nation more dependent on loans. He said the 7 goals of CERP needs to be implemented so essential expenditure for 2020-2021FY will rise. He said all budget proposals should re-evaluate only the essential necessities.
U Maung Maung Ohn from Ayeyawady Region constituency 5 said Myanmar has to import millions of tonnes of petrol every year but the ethanol used to mix with these fuels is produced from domestic alcohol factories based on sugar canes, maize, rice and cassavas. He said the government issued permits for the company in 2009 but it was unsuccessful as the laws and regulations were not very systematic. He said the nation must lead to enact the necessary laws and regulations for sales of fuel and ethanol. Tatmadaw Pyithu Hluttaw representative Colonel Han Thu said there will be repercussions on many sectors due to COVID-19 so national projects will not be able to fulfill their objectives if estimated revenues are not met. He said the deficit for estimated revenue for 2020-2021FY should be reviewed and methods to increase revenue should be pursued.
U Myo Win of Mon State constituency 8 said a lot of time is spent on micro numbers when reviewing the budget. He said the Union Government should develop a system that ensures budget proposals do not ask for more than the actual costs or the equipment cost is not too much higher than the project value. U Khin Maung Thi from Loilem constituency then referred to the Ministry of Education and said there is a high requirement of teachers for basic, middle and higher education and should be fulfilled within this academic year. He said the Ministry of Health and Sports needs to review its policies so that more assistant surgeons come to apply and treat public health. The matter was further debated by Dr Hla Moe from Aungmyethazan constituency, U Win Htut from Pyapon constituency, Tatmadaw Amyotha Hluttaw representative Colonel Soe Lwin, U Kyaw Min of Letpadan constituency, U Bo Gyi from Chauk constituency, U Tin Tun Naing from Seikkyi Khanaungto constituency, U Moe Shwe from Putao constituency, and U Kyaw Soe from Bamauk constituency.
Next, the assembly discussed the 2020 Union Tax Bill. Dr Pyae Phyo of Ayeyawady Region constituency 7 motioned for a change in section 23 of the bill by replacing 25 per cent income tax to 20%. He said tax reforms should be made progressively every year and the authorities should ensure the public does not misconstrue tax payments and promote a tax paying culture.
Tatmadaw Pyithu Hluttaw representative Colonel Aung Kyaw Myo said the estimated and actual tax revenue of the nation should be emphasized as the country has to pay back foreign loans. He said this is why the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry should keep the tax on tobacco and alcohol outlined in this bill unchanged. The bill was further debated by U Aung Myo Latt from Mandalay Region constituency 5, Tatmadaw Amyotha Hluttaw representative Colonel Saw Tun Aung and Daw Shwe Shwe Sein Lat from Bago Region constituency 3. The 11th-day meeting of the Second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s 17th regular session will convene on 21 August.—Aung Ye Thwin, Aye Aye Thant (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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