U Htin Kyaw’s inaugural cabinet: slimmer and trimmer

A few years ago, I wrote about bureaucratic bloat in Burma’s national government. At the time, Burma had 31 cabinet level ministries, well above Southeast Asia’s regional average. Turns out this is finally being addressed, in one of U Htin Kyaw’s first welcome proposals as the president-elect.

Modest cost savings

NLM 2016-03-22 cover
March 22, 2016 front page of the Global New Light of Myanmar.

On March 17, U Htin Kyaw submitted a proposal to the national legislature, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, to reduce the number of ministries from 36 to 21. The following Monday, on March 21, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, overwhelmingly voted 611-3 in favor of these changes. According to Htin Kyaw’s address to MP’s:

“The country will save about 5 billion kyats [U.S. $4.13 million] from the reduced [number of] ministries and ministers… We can use this budget for people in need to make their lives better, such as using it for health care, education and rural development.”

Like the Burmese proverb goes, ‘the bigger the tiger, the larger the footprint’ (ကျားကြီးတော့ ခြေရာကြီး). Just by reducing the number of cabinet ministers, the Burmese government will save at least $446,000 USD (540 million kyat) annually in ministers’ salaries alone, not counting allowances and other tangible benefits. The government currently spends $1.07 million ($1.296 billion kyat) per year on ministers’ salaries. Add in the deputy ministers’ annual salaries of $19,800 ($24 million kyat) each and the additional savings could be upwards of  $416,000 USD ($504 million kyat) — the government currently spends $1.13 million USD ($1.368 billion kyat) toward the annual salaries of its 57 deputy ministers. According to the official roster of ministers and deputy ministers, almost 95% of government ministries have deputy ministers, with three ministries having 3 each!

However, the restructuring is less of a government downsizing than it is a consolidation. For the most part, ministerial portfolios will be merged into existing ministries, or in the case of several ministries, they will be consolidated under a single umbrella. Government officials have been quick to clarify that there will not be any job losses in the civil service.

That’s one of the biggest mysteries, though–whether the ministers have the deft administrative experience to effectively tackle the streamlining of bureaucratic functions, instead of letting internal politics drive intractable resistance to these top-down changes. Mergers are notoriously difficult challenges to overcome in both the public and private sectors.

U Htin Kyaw’s restructured cabinet

Below is a detailed look at what the cabinet restructuring entails:

Thein Sein’s Cabinet
ဦးသိန်းစိန်၏ ဝန်ကြီးများအဖွဲ့
Htin Kyaw’s Cabinet
ဦးထင်ကျော်၏ ဝန်ကြီးများအဖွဲ့
1. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation
လယ်ယာစိုက်ပျိုးရေးနှင့် ဆည်မြောင်းဝန်ကြီးဌာန
1. Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation*
စိုက်ပျိုးရေး၊ မွေးမြူရေးနှင့် ဆည်မြောင်းဝန်ကြီးဌာန
2. Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries, and Rural Development
မွေးမြူရေး၊ ရေလုပ်ငန်းနှင့် ကျေးလက်ဒေသဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
3. Ministry of Border Affairs
2. Ministry of Border Affairs‡
4. Ministry of Commerce
စီးပွားရေးနှင့် ကူးသန်းရောင်းဝယ်ရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
3. Ministry of Commerce*
စီးပွားရေးနှင့် ကူးသန်းရောင်းဝယ်ရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
5. Ministry of Cooperatives
6. Ministry of Construction
4. Ministry of Construction
7. Ministry of Defence
5. Ministry of Defence‡
8. Ministry of Education
6. Ministry of Education*
9. Ministry of Science and Technology
10. Ministry of Electric Power
7. Ministry of Electric Power and Energy*
လျှပ်စစ်နှင့် စွမ်းအားဝန်ကြီးဌာန
11. Ministry of Energy
8. Ministry of Ethnic Affairs†
12. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
9. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
13. Ministry of Health
10. Ministry of Health*
14. Ministry of Sports
15. Ministry of Home Affairs
11. Ministry of Home Affairs‡
16. Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
ဟိုတယ်နှင့် ခရီးသွားလာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
12. Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
ဟိုတယ်နှင့် ခရီးသွားလာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
17. Ministry of Industry
13. Ministry of Industry
18. Ministry of Information
14. Ministry of Information
19. Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Social Security
အလုပ်သမား၊ အလုပ်အကိုင်နှင့် လူမှုဖူလုံရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
15. Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Manpower*
အလုပ်သမား၊ လူဝင်မှုကြီးကြပ်ရေးနှင့် ပြည်သူ့အင်အား ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
20. Ministry of Immigration and Population
လူဝင်မှုကြီးကြပ်ရေးနှင့် ပြည်သူ့အင်အား ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
21. Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry
ပတ်ဝန်းကျင်ထိန်းသိမ်းရေးနှင့် သစ်တောရေးရာဝန်ကြီးဌာန
16. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation*
သယံဇာတနှင့် သဘာဝပတ်ဝန်းကျင်ထိန်းသိမ်းရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
22. Ministry of Mines
23. Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development
အမျိုးသားစီမံကိန်းနှင့် စီးပွားရေးဖွံ့ဖြိုးတိုးတက်မှု ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
17. Ministry of Planning and Finance*
စီမံကိန်းနှင့် ဘဏ္ဍာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
24. Ministry of Finance
25. Ministry of Culture
18. Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture*
ယဉ်ကျေးမှုနှင့် သာသနာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
26. Ministry of Religious Affairs
27. Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
လူမှုဝန်ထမ်းကယ်ဆယ် ရေးနှင့် ပြန်လည်နေရာချထားရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
19. Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
လူမှုဝန်ထမ်းကယ်ဆယ် ရေးနှင့် ပြန်လည်နေရာချထားရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
28. Ministry of Transport
20. Ministry of Transport and Communications*
ပို့ဆောင်ရေးနှင့် ဆက်သွယ်ရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
29. Ministry of Rail Transport
30. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
ဆက်သွယ်ရေး၊ သတင်းအချက်အလက်နှင့် နည်းပညာဝန်ကြီးဌာန
31. Ministry of President’s Office No. 1
21. Ministry of President’s Office*
32. Ministry of President’s Office No. 2
33. Ministry of President’s Office No. 3
34. Ministry of President’s Office No. 4
35. Ministry of President’s Office No. 5
36. Ministry of President’s Office No. 6


  • * New ministry is the merger of multiple ministries in Thein Sein’s cabinet.
  • † Htin Kyaw is introducing one new cabinet-level ministry, the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs.
  • ‡ Ministers are appointed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s