The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population and the Ministry of State Counsellor Office held press briefings on their 4th-year performances under the present administration yesterday.
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw summarized the salient points of the ministry in the 4th-year of present administration.
He said that the ministry’s works mainly target to rural areas in agricultural, livestock and fisheries to promote socioeconomic lives of people in these areas.
The Deputy Minister also said agricultural sector contributes 13.9 per cent and livestock sector 7.5 per cent in the country’s economy while products from these sectors are about 30 per cent the total export volume.
The ministry issued the amended version of 2012 Farmland Law with the approval of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 14 February 2020. Under this law, the Form (7) was issued for 98 per cent of cultivation lands of 268,210 farmers.
As climate change has affected agriculture and livestock sectors, and irrigation facilities were developed in Kayin, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Mon, Rakhine, Yangon and Ayeyawady. A total of 89 projects from 2016-2017 to 2019-2020 protected 250,000 acres of cultivation lands from flood. The ministry developed 25 irrigation channels in Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Yangon and Ayeyawady, which also preventing 190,000 acres from flood.
Some 73 embankments were renovated in Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Yangon and Ayeyawady not to flood 300,000 acres. Renovation of 30 embarkments prevented salinity intrusion into about 100,000 acres for farms in Yangon and Ayeyawady regions.
Private mechanized farming was promoted with formation of 125 associations in 97 townships to use machines in the whole cultivation processes from ploughing to harvest.
New varieties of disaster-resistant 37 crop seeds, including paddy, were developed and laboratories for testing quality of soil, water and plants were set up in Pathein Pyay and Hlegu townships. Contract farming system has been practised in 200,000 acres of farms up to now.
Livestock disease-control zones were set up in Kutkai and Kawkareik border towns for cattle trade, and diseases were tested to the cattle before being exported to China, Thailand and Bangladesh.
The Vessel Monitoring System has been installed to control illegal fishing, safety of vessels and fishing vessels. Marine product exports gradually increased in the previous year, fetching $651 million from April 2019 to 2020 to date.
Household water supply projects from April 2019 to January 2020 reached 3 million people of 617,000 households in 3,672 villages, while solar power supplies have been installed for 1.27 million people at 146,000 houses and 22,000 public buildings in 3,400 villages, and constructions of 694.2 mile rural transportation roads and 707 bridges were constructed.
The government allocated K92.61 billion under the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan for socioeconomic development of rural people. The Department of Agriculture will use the fund for paddy seed production, capital fund for villages; the Department of Fisheries will help in fish seed production and distribution; the Department of Agricultural Mechanization will distribute agricultural machinery in Nay Pyi Taw, Ayeyawady, Bago, Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, Magway, Taninthayi, Kachin, Kayah and Shan.
Under the employment creating programme under CERP, the Department of Rural Development will carry out infrastructural developments in 2,488 villages, the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department will help in livestock and job opportunities in Nay Pyi Taw, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Yangon, Ayeyawady and Shan, the Department of Fisheries will conduct training courses for safety and security of fishing workers in their workplaces in Yangon, Ayeyawady, Taninthayi, Rakhine and Mon from May to December; the Department of Irrigation and Water Utilization Management will renovate irrigation facilities in Nay Pyi Taw, Sagaing, Magway, Mandalay, Bago, Yangon, Ayeyawady, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin and Mon from June to September; the Department of Agricultural Mechanization will provide agricultural services in Nay Pyi Taw, Ayeyawady, Bago, Yangon, Mandalay and Sagaing from May to Sepetmber; the Department of Small-Scale Industries will conduct job training courses from June to September.
Deputy Minister U Hla Kyaw and officials replied to media questions about management on CERP funds, the ministry’s actions on high prices of fertilizers which are being bought by the farmers from private firms and other issues in agricultural and livestock sectors.
Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population
Deputy Minister U Mya Kyaing then explained the fourth- year performances of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.
The Department of Labour issued labour registration for 1,474,711 people through employment agencies and linked 334,842 people to local jobs. The department has sent 334,304 people to work in 9 nations overseas and cooperated with local and foreign companies to hold 10 job fairs in 8 townships that linked jobs for 2,402 people.
The Minimum Wages Act, 2013 stipulates that the minimum wage can be changed at least once every two years with approval from the Union Government. The National Committee for Setting the Minimum Wage designated on 14 May 2018 that businesses with 10 or more employees must pay a minimum wage of K600 per hour, or K4,800 for 8 working hours in a day.
The Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population attended the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ video-conference on Response to The Impact of COVID-19 on Labour and Employment organized by the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia on 14 May 2020.
The Social Security Board has 1,495,608 insured workers and 35,060 departments in the fourth year. SSB provided 1,270,265 insured workers with medical treatment in the fourth year and has opened 173 social security clinics and hospitals and 2 mobile clinics for emergency treatments.
SSB is expanding its social security network to 21 townships in 2019-2020 financial year and received 40 per cent social security support of 520,501 workers from 2,764 businesses. SSB has issued K10,739.703 million and put in K50 billion as capital in the COVID-19 relief plan.
The Department of Factories & General Labour Laws Inspection is implementing the Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and the National Committee on Child Labour Elimination was formed and led by Vice President U Myint Swe. The committee has held 3 meetings and began implementing national-level action plans across the states and regions in January 2019. Kayin and Mon states and Bago, Yangon and Ayeyawady Regions are prioritized regions.
The 2019 Report on Implementation Progress on Elimination of Child Labour is being compiled for the Union Government and the draft list of hazardous businesses and workplaces for children is being compiled as well. 71 Workplace Safety and Health Committees have been formed between 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 with 1,246 committees formed so far.
Businesses are allowed to operate within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Sports during COVID-19 and field inspections have been made to 16,510 factories, workshops and workplaces between 20 April to 23 June this year.
The Department of Labour Relations has formed 2,334 Workplace Coordinating Committees for businesses with 30 or more employees.
The Department of Immigration is assigned by the Union Government to be the focal ministry for entry visa affairs in the fourth year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles the 14 types of entry visas and the Myanmar Embassies and consulate-general offices abroad give permission. The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population handles the visa on arrival and e-Visa systems.
Three international airports in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, an international port in Yangon, and 6 international border controls in Tachilek, Myawady, Kawthoung, Hteekee, Tamu, and Reedhorda are open while the Kyainglat-Siingaut border checkpoint on the Myanmar-Laos border has been expanded into an international border control. Visa on arrival has been issued for 55 nations including business visa, workshop/seminar/meeting/research visa, transit visa, and crew visa and for tourists from 13 nations. There were 497,893 VOA in the fourth year, e-Visa (Tourist) for 100 countries permitted from 1 August 2014, e-Visa (Business) permitted for 55 countries from 1 July 2015, and Express e-Visa (Tourist) permitted from 1 April 2018. There were 529,778 e-Visa approvals in the fourth year.
The Myanmar Advanced Passenger Processing System (MAPPS) was first implemented in Yangon International Airport in 2018. About 489 former Myanmar citizens have applied for registering as Myanmar citizens again starting from 2012 and 306 have been approved so far. The permanent residence system was started in January 2015 and has 686 PR applications with 617 approved.
The Taung Pyo Letwe Reception Centre was opened to accept returnees to Rakhine State who returned by land and a reception centre was also opened in Nga Ku Ya to accept returnees by water routes.
Despite having signed MoU, the fact that no returnees came back from the other country caused the ministry to sign the MoU with UNDP and UNHCR on 6 June 2018 and to extend the term from 6 June 2020 to 5 June 2021 for a second time.
The Department of National Registration and Citizenship issued 2,683,200 NRC cards in the fourth year, issued 81,032 household cards for migrating households and 2,546 NRC cards. The department issued 201,581 NRC cards to students in their schools and 9,205 NRC cards to workers in Yangon Region’s industrial zone. The department issued 23,345 NV Cards for citizens who require NRC and issued them to 8,880 monks, 4,117 novices and 1,686 nuns.
The Union Minister heads the e-ID Working Committee which has 24 members and is funded by an interest-free loan from the government of Australia. The ministry is working with the Australia-based company OesD to implement the e-ID system, which will be completed in 2 years.
The Department of Population conducted the 2019 Interim Census which helped to calculate the closest estimate of future populations, support the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, and prepare for the 2023 Census.
Deputy Minister U Myint Kyaing then answered a question on what the ministry has planned to remedy the rise of unemployment during COVID-19. He said there are now over a hundred thousand Myanmar workers who have returned during COVID-19 and 5,658 factories and businesses have shut down in the country, which has led to the unemployment of over 140,000 people. This means there are currently over 240,000 people without jobs in Myanmar.
The Deputy Minister said they are registering returnees in their township labour offices and are cooperating with companies to hire them while most factories are allowed to reopen as long as they follow designated rules during COVID-19. He said they are also linking with other ministries where projects and tasks that require additional human resource will be able to hire additional people. He said some countries are recalling Myanmar workers but there are certain restrictions and challenges to arrange flights. He said they are doing all they can to provide employment for all citizens.
Ministry of State Counsellor Office
Director-General U Zaw Htay explained the fourth-year performance of the Ministry of State Counsellor Office. He first explained the history of the ministry’s formation which came into effect when the State Counsellor Law was enacted on 6 April 2016. He said there are four duties assigned to the ministry and they are the proliferation of multiparty democracy, emergence of a market economy, establishing a democratic federal union, and national peace and development.
The ministry has the Union Minister’s Office, Union Peacemaking Department, and Department of Policy Affairs. The UPD implements NRPC affairs and held discussions with stakeholders to the peace process, coordinates discussions with EAOs and political parties, and formed the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre.
The State Counsellor chairs the NRPC which consists of the vice-chairs Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe, Ministry of State Counsellor’s Office, and Peace Commission Chairman Dr Tin Myo Win, Lt-Generals from the Tatmadaw and Hluttaw representatives. U Zaw Htay said careful review of the peace process will show that all stakeholders accept peace based on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), from which the Peace Architecture is drawn.
He said they are negotiating with both the signatories and non-signatories to the NCA and are preparing for the Fourth Session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong. Although political dialogue could not be started, 72 papers were submitted.
Part I of the Union Accord was signed at the Second Session the UPC which contains 37 points and 14 more points were obtained in the Third Session. NRPC held discussions with NCA Secretary EAOs in Yangon from 23 to 25 June and there were some agreements as well as timelines ascertained from them. Both sides agreed on holding the Fourth Session in the second week of August.
U Zaw Htay then said the 4th anniversary of the NCA was held at Myanmar International Convention Centre-II in Nay Pyi Taw on 28 October 2019. The State Counsellor’s speech on that day contained policy guidelines, especially three processes for moving forward with the peace process.
The first process was explaining how Part III of the Union Accord will be formulated. It will contain three parts that have a framework agreements on implementing the NCA and steps to establishing federalism.
The second process is discussing with non-signatories and bringing them under the umbrella of the NCA. The third process is benefiting from Development for Peace, especially development that was inaccessible due to armed conflicts in EAOs regions which are now underway after the Union Government extended official assistance.
U Zaw Htay said there are 3 steps to the coordination process. The first step is detailed political discussion that will produce agreements to be based on. The second step is technical negotiation and the third step is detailed implementation, especially going step by step in amending the 2008 Constitution. He said there are some progresses in negotiating for State Constitutions wanted by the ethnic nationals.
The third part of Part III of the Union Accord will contain basic federal principles. It contains the 5 guidelines mentioned in the State Counsellor’s speech at the NCA’s 4th anniversary. The guidelines are establishing a democratic federal system, power sharing, resource sharing and tax sharing, equity among the State and regional federal units, for states/regions constitutions to not oppose the Union Constitution, for power sharing to be based on the people and incorporate democracy. EAOs unanimously agrees to all 5 guidelines. U Zaw Htay said the UPDJC takes care of the political side of the NCA and the JMC takes care of the military side. He said trust between the Tatmadaw and EAOs have decreased and this has resulted in JMC-U meetings halted for 1 year and 10 months. He said although they have reached the UPC-21st Century Panglong, the Tatamdaw and EAOs’ unsuccessful negotiations on military affairs have had effects on the ground level and on political dialogue.
U Zaw Htay said that after numerous steps and discussions, the JMC-U meetings have been agreed to resume on 7 and 8 July with discussions on the political side to convene on 2, 3 and 4 July. He said NCA signatories will hold meetings from 2 to 4 July and meet again in the third week of July, JICM meetings will be held in the first week of August in Nay Pyi Taw in conjunction with UPDJC and UPDJC Secretariat meetings. Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the fact that most EAO members are stuck in Thailand, the JICM and UPC meetings are held close to each other and the number of participants have been reduced by one-third. The press conference on the Union Government’s 4th year performance successfully concluded yesterday after convening from 8 to 26 June.
(Translated by Aung Khin, Zaw Htet Oo)