As part of the series of press conferences on the Union Ministries’ second one-year performances, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, and Ministry of Hotels and Tourism held their press conference at the Ministry of Information building in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
Ministry of Information
Union Minister Dr. Pe Myint explained of his ministry’s role in bridging the gap between the government and the public and disseminating information among the people.
The Information and Public Relations Department established public libraries across the country and has been upgrading them into community centres with book clubs. Over a hundred public talks have been carried out in these centres as well.
The Ministry has the task of reporting news to the people and in light of increasing importance of the IT sector the ministry has formed Myanmar Digital News (MDN) to better reach out to the online sector.
The union minister said MOI has been partnering with private organizations as well in disseminating news, knowledge and entertainment to the public.
MOI has also planned more than ten trips for domestic and foreign independent media to gather news in Northern Rakhine State.
He said the ministry is ready to develop the media sector in accord with the democratic transition and while it is working media freedom there have been cases of action taken against media entities due to breaches of existing laws.
The union minister said that despite the ministry’s continued support of independent publications, the rise of online media has contributed to a steady decline in the printing sector. The ministry has approved of five private broadcasting services in accord with existing laws since a broadcasting law or bylaw is not existent yet. Of the five broadcasting services, Mizzima and DVB have begun their services while the remaining three will commence services this year. Khayae FM-Htantabin community radio was also launched as the first community radio on 19 February 2018.
The ministry has held numerous paper reading sessions, literature festivals for the general public, children, and ethnic literature, book sales, and all round development festival for youths while another one is planned to be held in Mandalay soon.
The Printing and Publishing Department has collaborated with Tun Foundation to bring back the Burmese Encyclopedia under a modern format as well as publish 100 Myanmar classics.
The ministry has also held multiple peace music festivals and the democracy film festival and is working to open a film studio in Uttarathiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw and a film academy.
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture U Tun Ohn said eighty-eight members of the Sangha passed the 70th Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination organised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture in 2018.
Religious titles were conferred on 199 Members of the Sangha and 60 men and women totalling 268 in 2018 for their outstanding performance in religious affairs. Meanwhile, provisions and cash amounted to over Ks320 million to the Members of the Sanghas and nuns.
In the 2017-2018 Academic Year, over 300,000 school children are learning at 1,547 monasteries and the ministry funded Ks140 million to the monastic education schools nationwide to give salaries to teachers there.
The ministry also provided cash assistance amounted to over K2.3 million to followers of Hindu, Islam, Christian in the second one-year period of the government.
The ministry donated K5 million each to Congregational Church of Myanmar in Dagon Township, Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in Dagon Township and Islam Home for Aged in Thingangyun Township last year.
Regarding the conservation cultural heritage of the country, the three Pyu ancient cities, Hanlin, Beikthano and Sri Kestra were inscribed by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) into its World Heritage List in 2014, Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay in 2013, Myazedi Stone Inscription in 2015, inscription oin the bell donated by King Bayintnaung in 2017 respectively.
The Ministry will submit the Rakhine State’s Arnanda Sandrasara stone inscription, which have bee listed as a world heritage in Pacific region, to UNESCO soon to be included in the world’s heritage list.
The ministry has renovated earthquake-hit 224 pagodas and conserved 86 in Bagan without damaging their original style. A total of 26 are under renovation and further 53 are targeted to be conserved.
As part of efforts for conservation of tangible and intangible arts of ethnic peoples, the ministry has collected over 340 intangible arts of ethnic peoples so far.
Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population
Permanent Secretary U Myo Aung said the ministry has sent 329,125 people to nine countries for job opportunities.
He said the ministry has cooperated with Thai officials to issue certificate of identity (CI) cards to migrant workers in Thailand with nine CI centres and two mobile teams starting from March 2017. Currently 1,013,748 CI cards have been issued.
The ministry has handled 33,642 social security cases and covered Ks 1,540.143 million to insured workers and Ks 15,239.833 million as social benefits for 343,1999 cases.
Acting Permanent Secretary U Aye Lwin was the spokesperson for the ministry and said they have added the Russia Federation and Ukraine to their list of visa-approved countries including eVisa business. Airports in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw switched to eVisa in 2014 and border gates in Tachilek, Myawady and Kawthoung switched to eVisas in 2016.
The ministry has removed 280 Myanmar citizens, 403 foreign citizens, and 35 passports from their black list and has installed the MAPPs system (Myanmar Advanced Passenger Processing System) in airports in March 2018 to swiftly identity other black list entries.
Myanmar and other ASEAN countries have reached bilateral visa exemption agreements for holders of diplomatic or official/service passports with twenty-one member countries currently. Talks are in order for visa exemption for ordinary passport holders in eight ASEAN countries.
Foreign citizens residing in Myanmar are issued Resident Return visas for visiting other countries at Ks5,000 processing fee. The visa is valid for 6 months travel abroad and if visa holders stay over the limit then they will have to apply for a return visa again at their relevant embassies or consulate.
International airports in Myanmar have also implemented Border Control System (BCS) for Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD). The ministry has received 117 requests for permanent residency (PR) from former Myanmar citizens and 193 from foreign citizens and has given approval to 68 former Myanmar citizens and 129 foreign citizens.
The ministry has issued national registration cards for 14,854 domestic migrant workers and 817,947 NRC cards to students throughout Myanmar.
The ministry has cooperated with Thai officials to issue certificate of identity (CI) cards to migrant workers in Thailand with eleven CI centres and two mobile teams starting from March 2017. Currently 1,013,748 CI cards have been issued.
The ministry is working to procure a complete list of ethnicities in Myanmar based on the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census as well as drawing the National Population Policy.
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
Director-General U Tint Thwin was the spokesperson for the ministry. The ministry has been working on passing a new Tourism Law that will create more opportunities for tourism agencies and businesses and detail steps to follow and how the central government and state and region government will regulate authority in the tourism sector.
A reported 1,225,856 foreign tourists visited Myanmar in 2018 and the hotel businesses generated US$710 million in 2018.
Domestic investment in Myanmar was divided into 23 per cent in Yangon, 12 per cent in Mandalay, and the remaining 65 per cent in other states and regions. Foreign investment in Myanmar was divided into 71 per cent in Yangon, 5 per cent in Mandalay, and 23 per cent in other states and regions.
Direct job opportunities were given to 62,762 people in hotel businesses, 10,896 people in tourism, 4,122 people in transportation, 7,971 people in tour guiding, 330,000 people in restaurants, 5,150 in airlines, and 2,350 people in souvenir businesses in 2018.
As for foreign technical assistance, the ministry received assistance from the Hanns Seidel Foundation in drawing and implementing the one year project for Responsible Tourism Policy, and Inclusive Tourism Policy.
The ministry also received assistance for projects from Asian Development Bank, ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), JICA, La Sapienza University, Luxemburg, PfC, Japan Tokyo Metropolitan, Swiss Contact.
The ministry is implementing twenty-one processes in 47 villages nationwide for community based tourism and has opened tourism information counters in Shan, Chin, Mon, and Rakhine states. —Han Hmwae, Lin Naing (MNA)