DIRECTOR-GENERAL U Zaw Htay of the Ministry of Office of State Counsellor met local and foreign media-persons at the Press Room of the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw at 4:30 pm on 4 September in accord with the social distancing arrangement, and explained the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention, control and treatment activities and the current situation.
At the press meet, Director-General U Zaw Htay first presented the provisions made by the Union Government for the people during the COVID-19 containment period. During the long Thingyan holidays, the government provided five kinds of food provisions for 5.3 million households at a cost of K71.103 billion. Instead of distributing five kinds of food items, it later provided K20,000 each for grassroots households with no regular income for two times. During the two times, the government spent K218.112 billion in presenting K20,000 per household for a total of 5.4 million households. It will spend K113.535 billion from its coffers for presenting K20,000 each to 5.6 million households, he added.
The government has set up a paddy seed production business, implemented a village trust fund project, distributed fingerlings, set up agro-services, and built production roads and rural infrastructures during the COVID-19 containment period with the involvement of locals under the Cash-for-Work system as a means for generating income for farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has spent K92.612 billion for all those activities, the DG said.
Moreover, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is providing cash assistance for senior citizens between 80 and 84 years, expectant mothers, welfare centres, homes for the aged and volunteers. Five kinds of basic food items have been presented household wise at the IDP camps in the whole country including those in Rakhine State. The ministry has provided school uniforms for primary students of the families of IDP camps. It has also assisted the people with disabilities, leprosy patients and victims of internal and external human trafficking. A total of K35.923 billion was spent for the purpose, he explained.
The Ministry of Health and Sports spent K267.903 billion in upgrading hospitals and related materials including medical equipment, protective gear and PPEs. A total of K100 billion was disbursed as soft loans for the roadside vendors, and another K100 billion was spent in distributing loans through microfinance businesses. The microfinance task force disbursed a loan of K200 billion for SMEs. Recently, a total of K600 billion was distributed to farmers at a rate of K50,000 per acre. The government bore the cost K107.379 billion in exempting the public from paying for the first 150 units of electricity consumed for the months, April, May and June, the DG explained.
In Taninthayi Region, tenders were invited to the private sector under the programme of the local government for running the businesses such as the production of power through generators and operating the turbines with the gas bought from the government. As certain areas in the region are not inclusive in the power charge exemption programme for the whole country, the Union Government provided K1.518 billion for the businesses at the request of the region government. It has provided assistance worth K1908.085 billion for issues that are directly related with the public. The Union government will soon provide K20,000 each for 5.6 million households, U Zaw Htay said.
As regards the COVID-19 prevention, containment and treatment, three types of legal actions are being taken against the offenders. The first is the Communicable Diseases Control Law, and the absconders from quarantine, failure to report their arrival from abroad, visiting other places without permission, gathering crowds against the local orders and directives, absconding from medical checkup after denying it, going outdoors without wearing mask, and absconding from quarantine will meet with legal action under Communicable Diseases Control Law. There are 9,148 such cases during the period from 26 March to 3 September 2020, and action has been taken against 11,271 males and 2,637 females, totalling 13,908, the DG elaborated.
The acts of consuming alcohol while undergoing quarantine, entertaining a number of consumers at restaurants against the rules, holding crowded weddings, running away from hospital while staying there as a suspected case, breaking the rules at the quarantine centres, entering and causing disturbance at quarantine centres, spreading false news on COVID-19, disturbing the COVID-19 awareness campaigns, staging strikes or holding religious ceremony are being dealt with Natural Disaster Management Law. In the whole country there are 118 cases under the law, and action has been taken against 219 males and 63 females, totalling 282. A total of 5,570 persons – 5,279 males and 291 females – have been taken action in 2,117 cases under the article 188 of the criminal law for violating the nigh-time curfew, he said.
Action has been taken against 42 males and 50 females, totalling 92 in 14 cases under Communicable Diseases Control Law for opening KTVs, clubs and bars during the COVID-19 prevention, containment and treatment period in regions and states during the period from 20 April to 31 August this year. Action has been taken against 25 males and 20 females, totalling 45 in eight cases under the Natural Disaster Management Law during the period from 1 to 4 September 2020. Legal actions were taken against the opening of KTVs, clubs and bars in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area, Sagaing Region, Bago Region, Magway Region, Mandalay Region, Yangon Region, Shan State and Ayeyawady Region, the DG clarified.
Afterwards, local and foreign media asked questions about the impeachment of the Chief Minister of Kayah State, the Home Affairs Ministry’s technical monitoring process on the social media, actions of the recently formed social media watchdog, the Union’s assistance for the people during the COVID-19 period and further programmes, COVID-19 checks conducted at the arrival and departure gates of Nay Pyi Taw, the possible relaxation, the 46-million-dollar US assistance for political parties, the degree of the possibility in holding the elections amidst the rising infection rate, the Union Government’s view on the Tatmadaw’s advice to cancel the elections in Wa special region and northern Rakhine State, any changes in the night curfew hours, whether the issue of confluence was raised or not during the trip of the Chinese Excellency’s visit, ICJ issue, the government response towards AA propaganda at the time when infection rate is rising in Rakhine State, the government’s view and attitude towards accusations against its slow response against high infection rate of COVID-19 in Sittway, Rakhine State, any plans for more restrictions in Sittway, and whether the rising infection rate will be designated as the second wave, the progress in controlling the virus, the reopening of schools, the government’s regulatory measures against the gambling at Myanmar-China border, plans to take actions against persons arrested in the gambling cases, the blowing up of a tower in Myawady, the closure of peace technology supportive association in Myitkyina, Chinese aids for anti-COVID-19, and the improvement of internet links in Rakhine State. U Zaw Htay gave answers.
The director-general said as regards the COVID-19 assistance for the people, the first point is the degree of the infection rate; the second is the issuance of rules based on the degree of infection. Stay home programme causes hardships for the grassroots who prioritize basic needs over rules. So they leave their homes for work as they cannot keep the virus in mind always. So, we are providing assistance to reduce such activities.
So, more aids will come depending on the requirement. The third programme to provide K20,000 each is underway. The government leaders will make decisions based on the coming third provision. A total of 5.6 million households will get K20,000 each. Based on the previous donations, the coming provisions will be made through the coordination with General Administration Department, he explained.
As regards the Tatmadaw’s advice on the cancel of elections in Wa special region and Rakhine State, he said Rakhine State has 17 townships, and the elections could be held fully in only five townships. In some cases the election could be held in the town, but not in the villages. The advice is for security purpose. Regular suggestion was been given in holding the election in Panghsan area. According to the procedures of the Union Election Commission, first the holding of the election must be announced nation-wide, and afterwards, an opinion for the elections is sought. In 2015, an announcement was made in October that election could not be held in Wa special region 2. Election could not be held in five townships – Panghsan, Manwai, Mongmaw, Narphan and Mongla.
Suggestion for northern Rakhine State and special region 2 has been sought, and there may be some other places.
We are seeking the Tatmadaw’s view of the issue. Moreover, the view of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the General Administration Department, and commissions at the lower levels was also sought. The response of the MoHS is also required, and the MoHS’s attitude will be announced in the coming October. Some misunderstood the situation and thought that there was the act of negligence. In fact, they have no knowledge of the procedures. Work is proceeding in accord with the procedures of the commission. If any, places where election cannot be held will be announced in the coming October. The elections in 2010 and 2015 also underwent according to the procedure, he clarified.
The policy of the President is clear. The election must be free and fair. A free and fair election cannot be held in a place under the rule of the armed organizations and where armed clashes continue. So, the view is the same as that of the Tatmadaw. The situation of the General Administration Department is also a factor to be considered. The commission has to make a decision after pondering the matter from various angles. The government will not make the decision, as only the commission has the power to do so, he said.
As regards the issue of the confluence included in the Myanmar-China bilateral accords reached during the visit of the President of China, he said Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Myanmar on 17 and 18 January this year. During the visit, six agreements, three accords, 14 MoUs, and 10 exchange letters were signed. The agreements included Kyaukpyu deep-sea port special economic zone, stock and shares, inspection of rice exported from Myanmar and pest-free agreement, export of processed food from Myanmar, care and health requirements for Myanmar cow and buffalo exports, cooperation between Chinese National TV and Radio Administration of China and Ministry of Information of Myanmar, mutual provision of embassy lands and buildings, and all the six agreements are now under implementation. But the cooperation with MOI has been temporarily postponed because of COVID-19, and the implementation is in progress for other projects.
Myo Kyaw Naing
(Translated by TMT)
PHOTO: KO HTAIN
#The Global New Light of Myanmar