Soe Htike Aung
Ethnic Literature and Culture Groups have reported that ethnic literary groups are facing difficulties because the state government has not yet allocated the budget until the end of the budget year.Coronavirus-induced mobilization activities, such as ethnic festivals, National Day, and literature refreshment trainings are restricted, so it is no longer possible allocate the budget for those activities.
Other non-crowd activities are allowed to use with the budget. However, the budget has not been allocated yet, so it causes difficulties for them to implement the budget required activities in a timely manner.
U Khun Htet, secretary of the Kayan Literature and Culture Committee (KLCC) in Kayah State, said that although six ethnic groups had planned to utilize the budget for publishing ethnic literature books and some of the textbook production activities with other budget line, they have not received the budget until September 15.
“We did not get it at all because of the COVID period. They have the budget for Kayan National Day, but we could not hold the festival. We have prepared to conduct Kayan literature training. However, we could not conduct it due to the restriction of people-gathering. There are reimbursement only when we paid first from our pocket or when the activities are conducted non-crowdedly. However, there are six plans for the publication of a Level-1 mechanical book. We still could not purchase the required facilities and could not publish those books although we requested with alternative budgetline,” U Khun Htet said.
The budget for 2019-2020 was given only three months in advance, and six months’ salary was not paid in advance from April to September 2020, so they have to seek interest-free loans to capitalists.
In Kayah State, ethnic literature and culture committees are in difficulties since they are operating their activities with the loans due to the fact that the allocation of budgets is being delayed.As the 2019-2020 fiscal year ends at the end of September this year, the state government was asked on September 11 to allocate the budget expense as soon as possible.
Daw Orlayvia, Secretary of the Kayah Literature and Culture Committee, said “We have requested and spent it after received the first and second month budget, but they are not using the third and fourth months budget. So, by the end of this month, their fiscal budget will be over. But, we still have activities to be conducted. Likewise, ethnic literature and culture committees also has work to do. But now they are not able to hold a public meeting, so they are only working and discussing what they are allowed.”
In the case of Kayaw literature and culture, 300 lakhs will be allowed for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, but it will no longer be allowed to spend money on public activities due to the coronavirus, instead of it, they are allowed to spend for collecting tradiational materials.
More than 143 million kyats have yet to be withdrawn from 10 ethnic literary groups.The Ethnic Literature and Culture Committee was initially supported by the state fund in the 2018-2019 financial year.
There are 10 ethnic literary and cultural groups in Kayah State, and tthe Hluttaw approved to allocated state budget for implementing ethnic literature and culture projects.
The failure to budget in time for the implementation of the project during the current fiscal year is due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, and ceremonies and special days are not allowed anymore. Instead of it, it will be utilized for other literature activities, said U Hla Myo Swe, the Burmese Ethnic Affairs Minister.
“For other uses, we provide what is in line with financial regulations and what should be provided, but it can’t be provided all. Besides, it can’t also be used with new budgetline. In case of the book publication or other, they don’t have time for it,” said U Hla Myo Swe.
He said the rest of the work would be completed next fiscal year.Only Kayah State receives the budget for ethnic literature and cultural expenditures.