What reforms Myanmar’s President-elect proposed this week

The Myanmar parliament is about to debate President-elect U Htin Kyaw’s proposal to cut 15 ministries from the previous administration, as part of his party’s goal to streamline government bureaucracy and reduce expenditure.

Htin Kyaw had been elected on 14 March as Myanmar’s first civilian president in over 50 years. National League for Democracy (NLD) leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred from the presidency due to a constitutional amendment has vowed to be “above the president” and to run the country by proxy through her close friend and confidant.

The NLD government will have 21 ministries and 18 appointed ministers, down from the current 36 ministries. The three most powerful ministries – Defence, Home Affairs and Border Affairs will remain in place, under the control of Myanmar’s military government.

The NLD proposal will abolish four ministries and downsize most of the others through mergers. The party will also limit one deputy minister to each minister. The NLD has assured civil servants that there will be no layoffs in the cabinet reshuffle but did indicate that some would have to undergo training. However, Saw Kapi, director of The Salween Institute for Public Policy have expressed concerns that the merged ministries might be overburdened from taking a larger portfolio and urged the party to make tough decisions to eliminate positions and repetitive processes.

Proposed list of ministries

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation
  • Ministry of Border Affairs
  • Ministry of Commerce
  • Ministry of Construction
  • Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs
  • Ministry of Defence (military)
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Electric Power and Energy
  • Ministry of Ethnic Affairs
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
  • Ministry of Industry
  • Ministry of Information
  • Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population
  • Ministry of National Planning and Finance
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental conservation
  • Ministry of the President’s Office
  • Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
  • Ministry of Transport and Communications

Abolished ministries

  • Ministry of Cooperatives
  • Ministry of Rail Transportation
  • Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Ministry of Sports

Merged ministries

  • Ministry of Electric Power / Ministry of Energy
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation / Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development
  • Ministry of Communication / Ministry of Rail Transport
  • Ministry of Culture / Ministry of Religious Affairs
  • Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry / Ministry of Mining
  • Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security / Ministry of Immigration and Population

To facilitate Aung San Suu Kyi’s peace process and national reconciliation, a new Ministry of Ethnic Affairs will be created to resolve long standing problems among Myanmar’s ethnic groups and conflicts between the military. The new ministry is said to have broad support from leaders and activist of minority groups.

The plans will be implemented once Htin Kyaw assumed the presidency on April 1.

The NLD has not yet revealed their proposed nominees for ministers. Stay up to date with Cascade Asia for coverage of the NLD’s picks of its cabinet members.

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