Myanmar's newly elected president Htin Kyaw leaves the parliament at Naypyitaw, Myanmar Mar. 15, 2016. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)
By Htet Khaung Linn
YANGON (Myanmar Now) - The first major policy proposal by Myanmar’s President-elect Htin Kyaw will see the number of ministries slashed by more than a third, the union parliament announced Thursday.
The new, streamlined list sees many ministries being merged while three ministries under the previous government would be abolished, reducing the total number of ministries from 36 to 21.
Only one new ministry was proposed, covering ethnic affairs, another signal from the incoming government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) that it takes seriously the issue of Myanmar’s ethnic diversity.
It is estimated that ethnic minority groups account for 30 to 40 percent of Myanmar’s 51 million population. They mainly live in the resource-rich borderlands and hill areas, some of which have been struggling with armed conflicts going back decades.
The six ministries of the President’s Office would be merged into a single Ministry of the President’s Office. Ministries covering sports, cooperatives and science and technology would be abolished.
However, the Ministry of Information, criticised as a government propaganda machine, would be retained.
After winning the November elections in a landslide, NLD officials have repeatedly said the party would downsize the new cabinet, but assured that civil service staff would not lose their jobs.
The names of the new ministers are expected to be announced in parliament next week.
The NLD will only be able to appoint 18 ministers because under the constitution, ministers for home affairs, defence and border affairs are chosen by Myanmar’s commander-in-chief.
The new government will take office on April 1 for its five-year term.