Keynote Address By H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor
26th February 2018, 09:30 am, MICC-II, Nay Pyi Taw
Excellencies and Distinguished guests,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to this first Myanmar Development Effectiveness Roundtable, Nay Pyi Taw and to see you again.
I recall that we first met in late 2016 shortly after the Development Assistance Coordination Unit was established.
The Government of Myanmar is convening this Roundtable at the beginning of the year, as we believe it will provide us with an opportunity to greet 2018 with a common vision for the development of Myanmar and to discuss how development assistance could bring us closer to the realisation of this vision.
The support of the international community can play an important and encouraging role, inspiring reformers to press on when obstacles loom large, and invigorating our institutions, some of which had ossified over a number of decades.
Myanmar has always appreciated such support from the international community.
Our country is facing a plethora of daunting challenges. The more daunting these challenges are, the greater the need for us to explore diverse ways of surmounting them and we look to our friends across the world to join us in our ventures and adventures.
It is my hope that the various presentations and dialogues we share today will enable us to work together to overcome the obstacles that developing countries inevitably have to meet.
I am happy to see that in addition to our partners in development, there are also present here representatives of our private sector, both domestic and international, and of the many local and international non-governmental organisations that make up the rich social and economic tapestry of contemporary Myanmar.
This is a place for open and frank discussions concerning the development challenges we face and it provides us with an opportunity to share constructive, forward looking and innovative approaches to invigorating and supporting Myanmar’s long term sustainable socio-economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s post-transition process. These challenges present us with opportunities to strengthen our commitment to peace and national reconciliation as a foundation for democratic consolidation in Myanmar.
As you will be aware, as the latest step in our peace process, we recently welcomed two new signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and we look forward to hosting the next Panglong Conference in the very near future. As part of our Government’s commitment to finding lasting stability and harmony, and supporting broad-based, inclusive socio-economic development in Rakhine State, and indeed, throughout the nation, we have established the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine State, the Rakhine Advisory Commission Implementation Committee and the Rakhine Advisory Board.
Although peace and national reconciliation are essential to the sustainable development of our nation, the purpose of holding this Roundtable is not to focus unduly on one sector, issue or location, but rather to establish a broad ranging, deep and strategic dialogue on the major developmental challenges and opportunities that must be tackled in the year ahead, and in the longer-term, without prejudice to any particular source of financing.
While Myanmar continues to enjoy the good will of the international community in the form of development assistance, we as the DACU have not lost sight of the fact that, if this country is to make meaningful progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, we must join together with the private sector, an important partner and the most reliable engine for growth. It is in this way that we will transform Myanmar’s development finance landscape, welcoming all forms of responsible investment: public and private, national and global, in the form of both capital and capacity.
I am pleased to say that the DACU is keenly aware of this new global reality, and are actively looking at how best we can position Myanmar to take advantage of this brave new world.
We are also keenly aware of our latecomer’s advantage, and wish to make use of the lessons available to us to avoid or possibly leapfrog over challenges and obstacles that had been faced by others.
Excellencies and distinguished guests,
You will be able to see from today’s agenda, that DACU is thinking broad, strategic and long-term.
DACU was established with the clear goal of identifying long-term, strategic opportunities to leverage development assistance, and indeed all forms of development financing, for the benefit of our people. The DACUs’ members came up with a series of proposed work-streams to take their mandate forward.
• Drafting a Development Assistance Policy;
• Identifying Development Assistance Priorities;
• Refreshing the Thematic/Sectoral Working Groups;
• Establishing Effective Project Screening, Processing and Approval Mechanisms; and
• Addressing Major Implementation Constraints.
As Chair of the DACU, I am pleased to inform you all that we have managed to deliver very real progress in each of those five work streams.
Amongst our highest priorities was the establishment of a Development Assistance Policy, or DAP in short. The DAP, which will be launched officially here today, for the first time in Myanmar’s history, provides a comprehensive set of policy guidelines, an articulation of procedures and other key related information to ensure that development assistance is used as effectively, and as transparently as possible in the interests of our people.
In drafting this DAP, the DACU was asked to streamline procedures to the greatest extent possible without sacrificing the need for proper monitoring, evaluation and scrutinization of this assistance. In particular, the DAP has been drafted to place greater responsibility on line ministries and other government entities, allowing them to take greater ownership for the management of the assistance they receive – technical assistance, in particular.
I hope that all of you will help to ensure the successful implementation of the DAP. The DAP will enable us to remove the practice of ministries establishing separate or parallel processes for the approval and scrutinization of development assistance, and issuing directives which might impact the timely delivery of assistance.
I would like to request all of you to engage with the DACU regularly, and to coordinate with it before issuing guidance to development partners.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The second and third on the list of tasks for the DACU are the identification of priorities for development assistance, and the organization of a new set of refreshed sector and thematic coordination groups.
I am looking forward to hearing reports from the new set of ten Sector Coordination Groups that were established last year. I hear that some are functioning better than others – so DACU will need to keep a close eye on those that are at risk of falling behind and to learn from those that are performing well.
The Sector Coordination Groups are essential for ensuring that development assistance is well-coordinated, and transparent, so that ministers are provided with the information they require to excel in their roles.
I am happy to hear that some Groups have moved forward with the creation of sector plans and strategies, and that others have been making strong progress toward developing associated costings. These important steps, if executed successfully, will allow us to break free of single year planning and budgeting cycles, allowing us to think strategically and to plan for the medium and long-term.
I would like ministers to redouble their efforts in this regard. And I would like to ask our partners in development to consider making the necessary resources available, technical, financial or otherwise, to help us to get the job done.
Now, a message to our civil society and private sector representatives – your participation in these Sector Coordination Groups is also essential. In many cases you are in the front line, implementing projects and programmes, and so your perspectives and expertise are very much valued and welcome.
We expect all the representatives from these various stakeholder groups, including the private sector and civil society, both local and international to be in position very soon.
DACU will have to ensure that the SCGs are living up to their commitments. I would appreciate a report on their current functioning within the next four weeks.
Excellencies and distinguished guests,
When determining what areas should serve as the priorities for development assistance, the DACU also had to determine what should be the priorities that would guide Myanmar’s overall development.
The 12 Point Economic Policy of the Union of Myanmar provides high level guidance, but at a more strategic level, we need to go deeper into detail.
Therefore, the teams drafting the DAP also have to work on what we are now calling the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan or MSDP. This strategic document will soon be followed by the Myanmar Public Investment Programme, a list of costed and prioritized national development projects to be implemented.
I am pleased to say that we now have a draft Plan for consultation, and I would like to use this event to bring all stakeholder groups into the consultation process.
The Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance will present the MSDP in greater detail. I would like to stress that this document will be critical to ensuring that all our projects and initiatives, regardless of their source of financing, are properly linked and directed towards the same goals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We hope that one of the outcomes of this event will be a set of recommendations – short, concise, practical and actionable, recommendations that focus on the critical steps that must be taken both in 2018, and in the medium-term, to sustain positive momentum as we move forward.
As we progress further into 2018, as we prepare to celebrate the Myanmar New Year, and as we begin a rather complex transition into a new financial year, let us all use the opportunity provided by this Development Effectiveness Roundtable to take up the challenges we face with a renewed and stronger sense of purpose, and resolve to do our best to achieve peace and prosperity for our country with the support and cooperation of our people and of our friends throughout the globe. Together, bonded by good will and good sense, we can achieve our most ambitious goals.