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The Yangon government's budget proposal for 2018-19 is under fire

Rangoon - The Rangoon provincial administration was severely criticised in parliament this weekend for its 2018-19 budgetary proposal, with MEPs voicing concern about the projected expenditure of billion Kyat. Mingalar Taung Nyunt's NLD local legislator U Yan Aung said during a Friday sitting of parliament that the bill contained expenditures that were "unacceptable and unnecessary".

Referring to suggested expenses for stationery, such as 800,000 Kyat (USD 594) for a revolving seat and 4 million Kyat (USD 2,970) for wood-carved furnishings, MEPs' proposals for community building were largely ignored. MEP asked himself out loud whether the pieces of wood were actually being purchased and asked Parliament to consider whether it was necessary.

"I suggest we examine the budgets with caution. Expenditure on movable goods was one of a number of budgetary headings that MEPs vehemently opposed during this week's debate. A further heated issue was that the suggested acquisition of 10 Ford automobiles to be used as formal automobiles for the Yangon Territorial Council at a price of one billion Kyat ($ 0.7 million).

Vehicles are designed to transport visitors to local events. Yangon Minister of Planning and Finance U Myint Thaung presented the preliminary outline for the coming financial year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 31, 2019, on May 25.

Almost 20 legislators discussed the budgetary suggestions as of Wednesday. The Yangon Parliament's Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs Commission on Friday suggested a series of budgetary cutbacks. Daw Sandar Min, head of the National League of Democratic Left Party (NLD), said that a proposal was made for a combined amount of 3.6 billion Kyats ($2.7 million) for the acquisition of cars for the 10 Ford limousines, as well as for the Yangon City Development Committe (YCDC) offices.

It said the General Administration Department (GAD) had also asked for 1 billion Kyat to buy 21 double-cabin automobiles in the 2018-19 tax revenue. Sandar Min said that a series of 57 GAD trucks were purchased. "Given that the budgets for these vessels should not be authorised to make sure that the necessary township developments are adequately financed, we (the committee) would ask that the allocated resources be reduced," she said.

Probably the board also recommended intersecting 107.65 million kyats ($0.08 million) for various projected expenses at Yangon City Golf Club, which come to 1.5 billion kyats ($1.1 million) allotted for its six-month operational budget from April to September. It also asked to reduce a YCDC application to 6.8 billion kyats ($5.05 million) for investment in Yangon City Bank to enable it to offer overseas bank service, and recommended that the funds be used for cities instead.

Besides the government's controversial spending suggestions for the coming financial year, the legislator also denounced the state government's failure to provide sufficient information. In the past months, an Yangon administration town planning bill on infrastructural, transport, residential and business developments was turned down after the legislature demanded more openness. The legislature lamented that the reports that the government had presented to Parliament contained only project headings and general information, making it inadmissible.

The MEPs asked the Yangon government's auditors last weekend to review expenditure of 64 billion Kyat (0.04 billion dollars) for City Bank, 70 billion (0.05 billion dollars) for Yangon Bus Service and 7.8 billion Kyat (5.8 million dollars) for the repair of arable land assigned in an additional 2016-17 budgets. Legislators' fierce debate on the budgetary expenditure suggested by the authorities and the absence of openness were greeted as a clear indication that the checks and balances system between legislature and administration is working.

Yangon's parliamentary spokesman on Friday said the local authorities would clarify their budgetary suggestions during Monday's meeting.

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