Myanmar parliament approves government formation plan

Nay Pyi Taw, March 21 (IANS) The Myanmar parliament on Monday approved President-elect U Htin Kyaw’s plan of forming a new government with reduced ministries.

The proposal submitted on March 17 was approved by a vote of 611-3 with 21 abstentions, Xinhua news agency reported.

U Htin Kyaw made his first public appearance earlier in the day by delivering a speech in the Union Parliament, clarifying his plan to form a government with 21 ministries and 18 ministers, slashed from 36 and 32 respectively in the outgoing government.

He said his cabinet aims to prioritise quality over quantity, build a corruption-free government, focus on national interest, save public money and form an efficient and consolidated government.

Cutting some ministries could save state budget of over 5 billion kyats (about $5 million) which can be used as fund for education, healthcare and rural development, he said.

He told government employees not to worry about their jobs, and that they will continue to be taken care of under public servants law.

According to the plan, some ministries will be combined into one, such as the merging of seven ministries at the president’s office into one.

The ministry of ethnic affairs was created and added to the new government set-up, indicating that the new government attaches importance to ethnic affairs which are to be separately dealt with to boost national reconciliation.

Of the 21 ministries, ministers for three ministries — defence, home affairs and border affairs — are to be named by the military under the constitution.

Meanwhile, U Htin Kyaw will submit a list of nominations of his cabinet members to the Union Parliament on Tuesday for approval, according to the agenda announced on Monday.

U Htin Kyaw of the NLD, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won the presidential race last week.

The new government is initially set to be sworn in on March 30 and will assume office from April 1.

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