By Zin Linn
The third regular session of the first Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower Parliament) and the third regular session of first Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper Parliament) kicked off at the Pyithu Hluttaw Building in Nay-Pyi-Taw, Thursday. President of Myanmar (Burma) Thein Sein sent a message to the Speakers of the Lower and the Upper Parliaments which commenced yesterday, the New Light of Myanmar said.
The President mentions in his message to the Parliament Speakers that different policies for sate peace and stability are being exercised based on the nation’s current conditions and lessons of the past in an attempt to guarantee eternal peace in the country. Government has been held talks with the 11 national race armed groups. Out of them, six groups have been signed preliminary peace agreements. And he also points out that negotiations with the remaining groups are in progress. According to the president’s message, the government has been taking good steps overall in peace process.
As said by the state-own newspaper, the main theme of the both parliaments’ session is going to approve the budget bills. The representatives of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament), which is the combination of the lower and the upper houses, are to scrutinize and approve the bill on supplementary budget for 2011-2012 fiscal year and the bill on budget and national planning for 2012-2013 fiscal year to be submitted by the Union government, the state-owned newspaper reported.
The Speaker of the Union Parliament has received 2011-2012 Supplementary State Budget Bill and 2012-2013 Union Budget Bill. These will be shared to all parliament representatives for their consideration.
The Lower House speaker Thura Shwe Mann said in his introductory speech that on behalf of the people, the Union Parliament representatives have to check how to distribute and spend the public funds and how about effectiveness of spending funds for the public.
And then, he pointed out that it is necessary to focus on supporting, suggesting and amending the various matters. He also stressed the need to talk about a variety of items by calculating the actual possibilities and consider the short-term and intermediate-term plans on the related tasks for coming years.
Actually, the budgetary plan of a government must be done by the people’s representatives through transparency and accountability. The outgoing military regime endorsed the 2011-2012 budget on January 27 last year, just a few days before parliament met for the first time on January 31, 2011.
The Government Gazette released by the previous military junta says that 1.8 trillion kyat (about $2 billion at free market rates of exchange), or 23.6 per cent of the 2011-12 budget will go to defense. The health sector, meanwhile, will get 99.5 billion kyat ($110 million), or 1.3 per cent. Education will obtain a 4.3 per cent allotment.
The budget is the government’s most important economic strategy and it presents a comprehensive proclamation of the nation’s priorities. Parliament, which is formed with representatives-elect, is the best proper place to guarantee that the budget goes with the nation’s needs with the available resources.
In March last year, National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi has criticized the previous junta’s 2011-12 budget for allocating too much of its funds to the military and not a sufficient amount to social services such as health and education.