NAY PYI TAW — President-elect U Htin Kyaw has addressed Union Parliament for the first time, telling lawmakers that the National League for Democracy’s plan to streamline the country’s civil service would not lead to job cuts in the public sector.
Presented to parliament last week, the NLD’s civil service reform plan will cut the number of ministries from 36 to 21. A total of 18 civilian ministers will be appointed, along with three military appointees for the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Border Affairs.
Speaking to lawmakers on Monday morning, Htin Kyaw reiterated a pledge made last year by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw that the party would not reduce the number of civil servants when it implemented the changes.
“I intend to organise an efficient government giving more priority to quality than quantity,” he said, adding that current public sector employees would not have to worry about losing their jobs as long as they abided by the rules and regulations of their ministry.
Htin Kyaw said the NLD forecast the plan to cut 15 ministries would generate more than K5 billion (US$4.12 million) in savings, allowing more investment in education, health and rural development.
The joint session of parliament voted on last week’s proposal before adjourning, with an overwhelming 621 of 664 lawmakers in favour of cutting the number of ministries. Only 3 votes were cast against the plan, with 22 MPs abstaining and 19 absent.
In a separate vote, the proposal for 18 ministers was approved by 601 MPs, with 22 against.
During Monday’s address, Htin Kyaw also spoke in favour of the NLD’s plans to create a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs, a move which has long been sought by ethnic political parties.
“A ministry of ethnic affairs is of vital importance for the future of the union, which needs peace, development and sustainability,” he said.