The bill passed by 410 votes for and 156 against.
There was some debate among MPs over a provision in the bill requiring the labelling of goods in the Myanmar language that would take effect a year after the law is enacted, while other provisions take effect immediately after enactment.
“It is very rare for enforcement of a law to come in parts,” Daw Khin San Hlaing, MP for Palae township in Sagaing Region, said.
Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo, MP for Kyauktan township in Yangon Region, said the provision should be removed, as the Ministry of Commerce had ordered last October that all product labels include the Myanmar language, which will take effect on April 26.
However, the passing of the bill would delay this requirement for another year, Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo said.
“It shouldn’t be delayed a year for fear that it might cause problems for businesses,” she said.
However, U Myat Nyarna Soe, a member of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Joint Bill Committee, said, “If the provisions in the bill are put into effect simultaneously, it would be difficult to sell and use many products, but if the provision is not included and the ruling on languages for labels comes into effect on April 26, many high-end medicines will be jeopardised.”
More time is needed for certain products and medicine to meet the labelling requirements, U Myat Nyarna Soe said. The American and British chambers of commerce in Myanmar had appealed to the assembly to keep the provision in the law, so if the provision is not included, the country’s trade and foreign investment will suffer, he said.
The bill requires a product’s name, type, size, quantity, and ingredients to be included on all labels in the Myanmar language.
Violations can be punished by imprisonment of six months to two years, a fine of K5 million to K200 million, or both.