Tea Touted as Solution to Budgetary Woes


As the government has found itself without enough cash to complete development projects scheduled in the current fiscal year, one cabinet member has aired an unusual proposal for financing the shortfall: tea money.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, the minister for agriculture, livestock and irrigation said that if the public truly wants all its roads and bridges, it should forgo tea, and pool the money into state government coffers.

“If the people nationwide can perform this plan, we can send the money to the places where the state cannot fund the projects,” he told the Pyithu Hluttaw.

Minister U Aung Thu’s statements were given on behalf of the Rural Development Department, following a question from Shan State MP Sai Ngo Seng Hein (USDP; Mawkmai) about the construction of a wooden bridge in his constituency.

In response to the MP’s concerns, the minister outlined his thrifty plan to ensure that regional areas would receive the infrastructure investment they desperately need.

“It is a sharing plan,” he said. “The state does not have enough money currently, but if each person drinks one less cup of tea each day, the public can help us fund these projects.”

The minister said that the plans were only in their infancy and that discussions would soon be undertaken with outside parties. No details were provided on how the tea money would be collected or whether it would be compulsorily levied like a tax.

“We have to prepare to repair this budget situation with a little extra money through sharing the burden,” he said.

At least one MP, Daw Thet Thet Khaing (NLD; Dagon) pointed out that the plan would be problematic.

“This plan would be impossible to implement,” she said.

Faced with higher than expected costs and sagging revenues, parliament has been mulling a supplementary budget bill.

The initial supplementary budget allocation bill submitted by the financial commission led by President U Htin Kyaw totalled K1.35 trillion (US$1.02 billion). Of that figure, K607.386 billion would be spent on regular expenditure, K553.726 billion on capital expenditure, K46.860 billion to repay loans and K146.642 billion in business investment. Out of the ministries, defence has requested the biggest share, asking fo an additional K96.9 billion in funding.

The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s Public Accounts Joint Committee this week counterproposed by trimming off K15.7 billion from the bill.


Source: Myanmar Times

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