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Permanent, unelected secretariat positions are to be created within all of Burma’s ministries to improve institutional functioning, according to a government plan.
During a debate in the parliamentary session on Thursday, upper house MP Myat Nyarna Soe of the National League for Democracy a proposal urged the government to suspend the plan to install the posts, but this was rejected.
Secretariats are usually responsible for the central administrative, or general secretarial duties, of an institution. There has been concern from some observers that the creation of these positions may be used to appoint non-elected, pro-government officials to ministries.
President Thein Sein first made the proposal last year, citing the potentially short-lived appointments of elected officials, and the need to have an official who is familiar with departmental procedures.
The move in parliament on Thursday to suspend the scheme was supported by the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s MP Zaw Myint Pe. However, the National Planning Minister Dr Kan Zaw and the Union Civil Services Board Chairman Kyaw Thu argued that the creation of permanent secretariats is in accordance with the law and will proceed as planned.
“U Zaw Myint Pe argued that the new secretariats will be effectively redundant, as the deputy-ministers are now, and will merely inflate the cabinet. Dr Kan Zaw responded with a lengthy answer, explaining how the plan is in accordance with the law,” Ye Tun, an MP from Shan State’s Hsipaw Township, told DVB by phone.
The parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann officially recorded the proposal, warning the legislative assembly that the government will be responsible for the actions taken within its own mandate, without needing to seek approval from the parliament.