State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as Chairperson of the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), held a videoconference from the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday about relief aid for grassroots people with irregular incomes.
Magway Region Chief Minister Dr Aung Moe Nyo, Hlinethaya (East) Township Administrative Officer U Kyaw Swe and Kautpanaut Village-tract Administrator Daw Ni Ni Aung.
After words of greeting from the State Counsellor, Magway Region Chief Minister Dr Aung Moe Nyo discussed the providing of relief supplies to the grassroots families with irregular incomes, collecting the list of families excluded during the first time when relief supplies were distributed, preparations being made for the distribution of relief supplies for the second time, measures against COVID-19, and the situation regarding economic enterprises and transport operations in Magway region.
Village-tract Administrator Daw Ni Ni Aung talked about collection of grassroots family lists, scrutinizing processes, providing relief supplies door-to-door, the participation of local authorities, common people and NGOs in carrying out relief activities, categorizing the groups of needy people, the follow-up lists for further relief aid, and dredging local creeks to help farmers facing a shortage of water.
Township Administrative Officer U Kyaw Swe reported on the system of collecting household lists to distribute the five essential household supplies, difficulties faced in the processes due to time constraints and compiling lists for the distribution of relief supplies for the second time.
Regarding the discussions, the State Counsellor said, “This time we will give cash instead of essential items. Giving essential items was a little more difficult. This was because the relief items had to be bought from different places. We had to make coordination arrangements to make sure that we got the relief supplies in the required quantities. It was difficult to get these relief supplies in some states and regions. We had to wait. We have given relief supplies in the Magway region the first time. For the second time, we will be giving cash so it will be much easier than the first time. This time we will not be giving relief items to those who were not included the first time and for those who are in the supplementary list. In some regions, it was difficult to buy the five essential food items. It was also difficult find them. When providing relief supplies for some states and regions, we had to buy these supplies in other regions so it took more time. In future, we will only give cash assistance.”
She added that the weather has changed and that it was necessary to educate everyone about this. It was necessary to live harmoniously with the new weather patterns. Rainy days have decreased compared to former times. When it rained it came down in torrents so there were floods and landslides. It was necessary to be prepared for such eventualities. It might be necessary to change the plantation methods in accordance with the changing rainfall patterns.
She said that it was difficult to estimate how long the COVID-19 would last; although Myanmar was not a rich country relief aid was being given as much as possible; to continue providing relief aid like this would be extremely difficult; that was why conditions were being created to allow people to work; people needed to work as much as possible; it was necessary to create a proper balance between the need for health security and the need to earn a living.
She went on to say that at this time the whole world was facing economic decline; efforts were being made so that Myanmar would face the least amount of decline; all the people need to give help; and that it was necessary to work hard so that the economy would gradually begin to function as before. She ended by outlining the measures that the Union Government would be implementing to fulfill the needs.
In her concluding remarks the State Counsellor said that during the first three weeks of May, the number of migrant workers who returned from Thailand were not that many; the reason for the low number of returnees was because of the situations in Thailand; it was initially expected that they would return beginning in early May; all arrangements were made for their quarantine as well as for their transportation; however, because they could not come from Thailand yet, the number of returnees were not much during the first three weeks; they started to come in round about 20 May; on the first day the number was only in the hundreds but now about a thousand were coming in daily; it was difficult for Thailand to provide a detailed list showing the regions or states these returnees originally came from; now the majority of Myanmar citizens working in Thailand are working on a legal basis; about three years ago about 80 per cent were working illegally; right now 90 per cent of Myanmar workers are legally working; the number of illegal workers have become very little; and that arrangements have been made with the Government of Thailand so that all these workers would be holding legal documents.
The State Counsellor said that local authorities in Myawady reported that some returnees were not willing to return to the areas mentioned in their passports and documents, and that it was not possible for them to go to other areas before returning to their homes; officials had to explain to them that they needed to return to their home towns or villages to undergo quarantine.
It was important for Mon State and Magway Region as the agricultural season has set in; Myanmar has a lot of potential in the agricultural sector; at this time, agricultural produce are not easily available in most of the European countries, and that Myanmar has got more opportunities to export of agricultural produce to other countries and that the role of Myanmar farmers has become crucial nowadays; from the beginning Myanmar was a country based on agriculture; at present also, if a modern agricultural system could be implemented, the national economy would develop significantly; food sufficiency is essential for the world; the agricultural sector is declining in developed countries; as people in these countries abandon the agricultural sector, produce in this sector has declined and they have to rely on import of agricultural produce; the agricultural sector would always be a fundamental need for the world, and that Myanmar needs to grasp the existing opportunities by adopting suitable policies to promote food export which could help the economic development of the country.
The State Counsellor finally said that there are many internal migrant workers in Hlinethaya Township, Yangon; the increase of employment opportunities in other areas could help reduce the number of migrant workers in this township; everyone wanted to work in their own home towns and villages if employment opportunities were available; Magway Region and Mon State should try to make this happen; in providing assistance the Union Government looks at the problem from the long-term view; it is pleased to provide relief supplies to the grassroots people; however, and that the government was expecting a situation of self-reliance. She said the goal should be to realize an economic status where there would no longer be such grassroots people in the country. She ended by saying “That is why I wish to urge everyone to help your own communities in your own sectors”. —MNA (Translated by Kyaw Myaing)