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28 May, 2012

Chinese, Thais Lead Gold Rush for Myanmar’s Energy, Natural Resources

Dr.Kan Zaw, Deputy Minister for National Planning & Economic Development

Edited excerpts of speech delivered on 21 May 2012 at the 68th Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok, Thailand.

In Myanmar, the new government was formed on 30th March 2011 in accord with the new administrative mechanism so Union government and State and Region governments were also formed.

With its commitments made in his Inaugural Speech delivered by the President, the new government is implementing the proceedings such as ensuring governance, clean government and democratic practices, fundamental rights of citizens, the rule of law, transparency, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor, creation of a harmonious society, economic reforms and environmental conservation.

After assuming the State Duties and paving the way for a new democratic Myanmar, political, economic and social reforms have been undertaken in our country. For the economic development, Myanmar has made efforts to be in line with international and regional goals. In doing so, the four Economic Policies are adopted as follows:

a) Sustainable Agriculture Development towards Industrialization and All Round Development;

b) Balanced and Proportionate Development among states and regions;

c) Inclusive Growth for entire population;

d) Quality and correctness of statistics.

On the other hand, series of reforms have been undertaken in financial, trade and investment and industry policies for the economic development of our country.

In order to promote foreign investment in our country, we are now revising the FDI Law. Moreover, Notification on utilization of Land and Notification on foreign exchange currency were issued on 30th September 2011 to be more investor friendly environment.

With regard to investment, as of March 2012, 460 foreign enterprises were permitted with a total pledged amount of US $40.431 billion in 12 sectors. Among the 12 sector, power sector is the leading sector and followed by oil and gas and mining sectors. According to country wise, China rank first, Thailand rank second and Hong Kong stands third respectively.

For the trade sector, the total trade of Myanmar as March this year is recorded as US $ 18.15 Billion which is composed of export and import of US $ 9.097 Billion and 9.053 Billion respectively. Among our trade partners, China ranks top with the total volume of US $ 5.061 Billion followed by Thailand with US$ 4.475 Billion and Singapore with US$ 3.059 Billion. Moreover, commercial taxes on proceed of export earnings were reduced on June 2011, aiming to promote exportation.

I would like to give some scenarios on the endeavours of our government for social development for the local population.

Myanmar has population of above 60 million and 70 % of total population are residing in the rural areas. Under the guidance of the President, the National Level Workshop on Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation was held in Nay Pyi Taw in May 2011 and based on the recommendations, Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Reduction Plan has been formulated. It consists of eight tasks: agricultural production, livestock breeding and fisheries, rural productivity and cottage industries, micro saving and credit enterprises, rural cooperative tasks, rural socio-economy, rural energy and environmental conservation.

For the implementation of each task, the sub-committees have been formed and these committees were headed by the Ministers of the respective ministries.

Our government has paid more attention to the environmental protection and conservation for the sustainable development of our country. Therefore the Ministry of Forestry was renamed to Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry. This ministry is also responsible for the implementation of the environmental conservation task among eight tasks of the Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Plan.

Myanmar has conducted a series of Development Partnerships Fora with UN ESCAP since 2009 to strengthen the national capacities of Myanmar through sharing of regional experiences and policy options to address development challenges, particularly in the areas of rural development. It has also organized the First Green Economy and Green Growth Conference in 2011 in Yangon.

Since Myanmar endowed with natural and human resources, it believes that Human Resource Development plays a leading role in successful implementation of economic policies and reliable developments. In this regard, Government has drawn up the Human Resource Development Plan and for the sake of education sector, the government enacted private school registration law on December 2011.

Meanwhile, steps are to be taken for the wider use of modern teaching aids in higher learning in regions and states, capacity building of education staff and ensuring education of international standard to be in line with the education policy. Efforts are being made for all citizens to complete basic education, ensuring standard basic education, pursuit of vocational education, modern communication technology, professionals, teaching and learning opportunities, better management, participation of parents in development of basic education and development of research. In order to carry out these activities, Myanmar Education Committee was reformed and changed as National Education Committee on 20th April 2011.

For the health sector, emphasis has been placed and a lot of inputs have been invested for improving health sector since National Health Plan is an Integral part of national development plan. The government has laid down two objectives: to enable every citizen to attain full life expectancy and enjoy longevity of life and to ensure that every citizen is free from diseases. To achieve these objectives, all health activities have been implemented according to three strategies which are widespread dissemination of health information and education to reach the rural areas, enhancing disease prevention and providing effective treatment of prevailing diseases.

The Development Policy Options in Myanmar with Special Reference to Education and Health in Nay Pyi Taw was held on February 2012 in collaboration with the UN Country Team in Myanmar in which many experts shared their expertise and experiences.

A workshop on public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a method of private sector engagement was organized with UN ESCAP in January this year. Some of the notable recommendations of the workshop include: the need to address a broad range of constraints and barriers to PPPs and the need to develop a policy framework to address specific issues relating to PPPs, among others. In this regard, UN ESCAP’s technical support in the areas of SMEs development, rural agriculture development, sustainable urban development and technology transfers is needed.

In his speech, the President also stated on what the new government has been undertaking a series of reforms since its assumption of duties. Those tasks which need to take reforms for enhancing the socio-economic status of the people as second-step strategic reforms, included covering national solidarity, prevalence of peace and stability, ensuring security of the people, enhancing the international cooperation and introduction of clean government and good governance with the aim of flourishing multiparty democratic system and stressed the importance for those present to touch upon and continue implementing the ministry-wise, sector-wise tasks as well as self-administered zone-wise and region/state-wise tasks. To guide and monitor these tasks, the government has formed Planning Commission in May 2012.

Moreover, to cooperate with effective management and activities with International Development Partners, “Aid Management Central Committee” has been formed. To provide advice and recommendations to the President and the Government for addressing economic and social development challenges, implementation of actions leading to inclusive and sustainable development and achievement of internationally agreed development goals, the “National Economic and Social Advisory Council (NESAC)” has been also formed, as part of second-step strategic reforms. UN ESCAP’s support to and close cooperation with the Council would further strengthen the reforms process and narrow development gaps towards eventual graduation from LDC status and achievement of the MDGs.

The Census 2014 is underway. The United Nations and the Myanmar Government recently exchanged letters setting out principles for conducting the census in accordance with international standards. I thank UN ESCAP for providing continued assistance in building statistical capacity development in Myanmar.

In conclusion, Myanmar has been cooperating with the UN agencies, bilateral and regional institutions for the economic and social development for the entire people. We are now working more closely with the United Nations, including UN ESCAP as a trusted partner, regional institutions and development partners to achieve our national development goals. I take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to the UN ESCAP and Executive Secretary Dr. Noeleen Heyzer for continued partnerships and request UN ESCAP to provide strengthened assistance to Myanmar through establishment of a Myanmar-ESCAP regional technical support centre in Myanmar for development partnerships and regional integration. This centre would help enhancing capacity towards smooth integration into ASEAN economic community through peer-learning of good practices and lessons learned from the region.

We will surely continue to play our part with determination in the efforts to strengthen not only the bilateral but also the multilateral cooperations to meet the global challenges of this millennium.