Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The central government is still holding on to absolute power and states and regions are suffering, according to political party members.
“Earlier the central government said it would give full authority to region and state governments three months after it came into office, now it has been prolonged to six months,” said an ethnic party member in Shan State. “The ‘Union government’ [central government] has told region and state governments not to do anything without its instructions.”
For example, business owners who want to invest in states must obtain a central government permit. Moreover, the regions and states do not have authority to collect taxes.
Zo Zam, the chairman of the Chin National Party, said that Chin State is handicapped because it cannot manage its own finances and resources and collect taxes, which under the law it has the right to do.
Timber companies from Sagaing Region and Magway Region came to the state to harvest timber, but, in fact, the forests are owned by Chin State, he said, and it should get taxes from the timber production.
Chin Progressive Party Upper House MP Paul Lain of the Matupi Township constituency, said, “Our region cannot produce anything except timber. So the region needs the tax income generated from the timber production to spend in the development of the area.”
The minister of the state’s Ministry of Forestry is Kyaw Nyein of the Chin Progressive Party, but his role and authority are still unclear, according to Chin party members, who are preparing suggestions to put forward to the next Parliament.
The Burmese Constitution states that region and states can collect taxes and revenues from 19 sectors and it has the right to spend the revenues. Regarding timber production, they have the authority to collect taxes on all timber except teak and certain restricted hardwoods.
According to a report in the state-run The Mirror newspaper on June 22, Dr. Sai Mauk Kham, Burma’s vice president, spoke on the union budget at a meeting at the President's Office in Naypyitaw, saying local governments must revise their budgets because the central government is facing a budget shortfall, and it has not separated local budgets from the Union budget.
Meanwhile, political parties are calling for more transparency and information about the allocation of budgets among the Union, state and region governments. and the distribution of power.
“We really don’t know how the budgets are allocated,” said Khin Maung Swe, a leader of the National Democratic Force. “We are thinking about putting forward a proposal to Parliament demanding more transparency in allocating budgets.”
According to law, the Financial Commission must draw up the budget plan for the nation, but the former junta drew up the budget plan for the 2011 fiscal year in advance and approved it on January 27.