Can President end poverty in Burma, as defense budget rises?By Zin Linn Dec 17, 2012 7:45PM UTC
President of Burma, Thein Sein arrived in Dawei, Taninthayi Region, on 16 December 2012. He was welcomed there by Chief Minister of Taninthayi Region Myat Ko, Speaker of Taninthayi Region Parliament Htin Aung Kyaw, Commander of Coastal Region Command Maj-Gen Khin Maung Htay, regional ministers, members of the social organizations, teachers, students and local ethnic people at the Dawei Airport, the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar said.
According to the media reports, President Thein Sein met with departmental officials, members of the social organizations and towns elders at the City Hall. During the meeting, Chief Minister Myat Ko reported on plans for building human resources development training school, for building shopping malls, private banks and hotels, power supply to Dawei and towns in Dawei District, a 150-bed private hospital, transportation, industrial zones and border trade camps and maintaining the water course of the Dawei River.
Speaking on the occasion, President Thein Sein expressed his hope to achieve growth of per capita income in the Dawei area which is now lower than those of Kawthoung and Myeik.
The nation was started changing into democratic system on 1 April 2011, he highlighted and the Constitution came into force together with the Parliamentary practice. Democratic practices are in speedily on the rise in good shape supported by three sovereign powers – legislation, executive and judiciary, he added.
But he stayed away publicizing about protests concerning the copper mine run by Chinese Wanbao Company and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings. The anti-copper mine protests have been held across the country in a show of public anger because of dozens of monks have been suffering from severe burns in a pre-dawn raid on peaceful protest camps at the Letpadaung copper-mine on 29 November.
Hundreds of monks, supported by activists, staged demonstrations across the country last week over the copper-mine crackdown, the most appalling repression on demonstrators since Thein Sein reformist government came to power last year. The nation’s Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said the conflict over the mine was the result of a lack of transparency and accountability between the government and the public.
Instead, the President explained about his two year old new government’s reform processes that ensuring rule of law reinforced by peace and stability and socioeconomic development inspired by sixty million people in the country. Accordingly, the nation is moving towards to the emergence of democratic society in accordance with aspiration of the people, he said.
Moreover, he said that there are two parts to build a peace and prosperity nation – political stability and cessation of armed conflicts.
He also said that his government has taken necessary measures for ensuring all inclusiveness in the political pattern. It is important to leave behind the divergences to build a common ground, he emphasized. In spite of being different, peace was witnessed in Shan, Kayah and Karen states of the country through preliminary peace agreements with the ethnic armed groups, he mentioned.
However, he did not mention Burma Army’s fierce battle with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near the Liaza headquarters of Kachin Independence Organization. Burma Army allegedly fired rockets from two Russian-made Mi-24 helicopter-gunships on KIAs positions during battles, news media said. While the President has been calling for peace and stability, his armed forces are escalating the hostilities in Kachin state. In fact, the Kachin war is an evidence of despotism that Thein Sein government truly put into practice.
Thein Sein even boasted that his reforms have been earned support not only of ASEAN but of the wider international community. He mentioned the visit of US President Mr. Obama as the best example that supported his reforms. He said US eased sanctions and EU rewarded generalized system of preference for products from Myanmar (Burma).
With respect to the UN Millennium Development Goals, he expressed the obligation of his government to reduce poverty rate from 26 per cent to 16 per cent by 2015. As there are over 1,200 villages in Taninthayi Region and over 60,000 across the nation, the government and the people have to harmoniously carry out rural development tasks; he addressed during the meeting in Dawei.
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 budget this year (2011-2012) will go to defense. The health sector, meanwhile, will get 99.5 billion kyat ($110 million), or 1.3 per cent, according to the Associated Press on 1 March 2011. The document was enacted on Jan. 27, before the legislature sat on Jan. 31, according to the Government Gazette. The timing apparently means the budget will not need parliamentary approval before coming into effect on April 1, 2011.
Hence, people believe that this new government – with civilian outfits and military in essence – will spend the defense operating cost more than it writes on the paper. Although the disguised regime says 23.6 per cent of the budget this year will go to defense, there may not be trustworthy check-and-balance system in the parliamentary pattern. The fact is that the defense ministry never submitted or explained budget allotments for any military-operations against the ethic rebels to the Parliament.
Therefore, to make a comment honestly, President Thein Sein’s dream of cutting poverty rate from 26 per cent to 16 per cent by 2015 may never ever be materialized since he has no enough power to end the ongoing Kachin war.