Another wait for mine bill

Approval of the Mining Amendment Bill has been delayed again as hluttaw members dispute whether or not some of its provisions are constitutional.

The main focus of the current disagreement is whether to grant licences to mining companies for 15 years or 25 years.

The bill is an attempt to update legislation that many see as outdated. The current mining law dates to 1994, and for instance provides a lack of certainty for potential foreign investors, according to some experts.

Lawmakers decided that rather than rewrite the legislation entirely, they would pass a bill amending some of the rules. However, the Mining Amendment Bill has been a work in progress since 2012, with several sticking points emerging – most recently the length of licences that will be allowed.

While the Amyotha Hluttaw had approved the original bill, stipulating a 15-year term, the Pyithu Hluttaw last week stood out for 25 years, backed by the Ministry of Mining.

Amyotha Hluttaw representative U Nay Win Tun (Shan 9) said the licence term should be 15 years, as stipulated in the investment law, so that large-scale mining companies could systematically plan and manage production. The Pyithu Hluttaw committee, however, said the term should be 25 years, as included in the existing law.

Hluttaw speaker Thura U Shwe Mann decided to suspend the reading of the bill as a result of the dispute.

The two houses of parliament also disagree on whether a mining company should apply to the Mining Plot Scrutiny and Allotment Board, or the mining authority or department in each region and state, for project approval.

Pyidaungsu Hluttaw representative U Ba Shein, of Rakhine State’s Kyaukpyu township, said Amyotha Hluttaw’s approval of the bill was not in line with the constitution. “How can we say it’s in conformity with the constitution when the Union minister orders chief ministers to do something?” he said.

U Hla Swe, chair of the Amyotha Hluttaw Mining and Resources Affairs committee, said the government could make such an order. “The Union government has the right to assign matters to region and state governments. They’re just trying to be difficult,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Now the draft law will be reviewed by the Union Attorney General Office and others, including concerned MPs.


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