Myanmar parliament votes to reduce number of ministries

AP News
Posted: Mar 21, 2016 2:24 AM

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's new parliament voted Monday to reduce the number of government ministries, with President-elect Htin Kyaw assuring lawmakers that no civil servants will lose their jobs and that the nation will save $4 million by getting rid of 15 ministers.

The 611-3 vote by a joint session of parliament was the first legislative act by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, which came to power after a decades-long struggle for democracy followed by a historic landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general election.

In his first speech to parliament since having his nomination confirmed last week, Htin Kyaw, who will formally take office on April 1, said that currently "a lot of different ministries scattered around" are doing duplicate work, and that he intends to combine them so their number will come down from 36 to 21.

"I have no intention of reducing the number of civil servants," he said. "By reducing the ministries, we will reduce unnecessary expenses and eliminate ministers' salaries."

He said the government would save 5 billion kyats ($4 million) during its five-year term, and would use that money for "education and other better issues."

Myanmar was ruled by successive military juntas since 1962 and by a military-backed, nominally civilian government from 2011. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party will form the first government to be elected democratically. Suu Kyi is barred by the constitution from holding the president's post, which will be occupied by her close friend, confidant and adviser, Htin Kyaw.