NLD tables proposal to slash ministries, create new Ethnic Affairs portfolio

By SEAN GLEESON in YANGON
& SOE THAN LYNN in NAY PYI TAW

President-elect U Htin Kyaw has submitted a proposal to parliament to cut the number of ministries by one third, abolishing four ministries outright and merging another 10, as part of the National League for Democracy’s plan to streamline Myanmar’s moribund civil service.

A total of 21 ministries are proposed under the scheme, down from 30 under the government of President U Thein Sein. Thursday morning’s proposal said that the NLD would nominate 18 ministers for the next cabinet, down from 36 under the outgoing administration. An additional three ministers will be appointed by the military for the Home Affairs, Defence and Border Affairs ministries, as is required by the 2008 Constitution. 

The proposal includes the creation of a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs, long a demand of ethnic armed groups and ethnic political parties. The Cooperatives, Rail Transport, Sports and Science ministries will be abolished, with their current responsibilities to be folded into other government departments.

The number of President’s Office ministers will be cut from six to just one under the proposal. The NLD has also said it will nominate no more than one deputy minister per cabinet position. 

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The names of the NLD’s proposed ministers have yet to be revealed. Parliament has adjourned for the day in Nay Pyi Taw and discussion of the proposal is expected in Friday’s session.

Under the terms of the Constitution, the president has the right to appoint all ministers after presenting a list of nominees to a joint sitting of the Union Parliament. The parliament can only reject nominees if they do not meet the constitutional prerequisites of being aged 40 or over and having lived in Myanmar for the previous 10 years, excepting any foreign residence approved by the Union government. 

The full list of proposed ministries:

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation
Ministry of Border Affairs (military)
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 (military)
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:

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

Merged:

Ministry of Electric Power / Ministry of Energy
Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation / Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development
Ministry of Communication / Ministry of 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

New:

Ministry of Ethnic Affairs

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