August 15, 2017

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The Outcomes of 3rd MDCF and New Resolution: towards Sustainable Development Goals after Millennium Development Goals

Since Myanmar is about to embark on the next phase of its remarkable journey to the democratic state, a journey that has propelled it to the top tier of the Dream of Myanmar people and which will lift hundreds of people out of poverty in a remarkably short period of time. This new transformation with firm destination, a clear roadmap, and a deep sense of responsibility has undertaken with Three Waves: Myanmar’s first wave of reform dealt with the introduction of a multi-party democratic system and the transition from the old to a new system, while the second wave of reform put emphasis on strategies for executive, economic, political and social reforms which have been supported by the international community. The Third Wave calls for the emergence of a new, strong democracy alongside higher living standard for the people.
Moreover, the political reform is the most critical and the most subtle of all, it has been called by the President on the government bodies and the public to cooperate in order to avoid internal conflicts similar to those of some countries which are in a transitional period. Since Myanmar has been left behind by the lengthy conflicts and instability further than others in terms of development, political parties are urged to avoid confrontation and enter into negotiation as a gesture of practicing political culture for a stable and peaceful political reform. With regard to the measures being taken in line with the Framework on Economic and Social Reform, changes in taxation systems, alleviation of some trade and investment rules, arrangement for the launch of an e-government system and projects for rural development and poverty alleviation are being called for.
Most international organizations expressed on Myanmar’s transition in 2011, following decades of isolation, and the way it embarked on an unprecedented reform process, raising hopes for a new democracy. These reforms have been welcomed by the international community along with the rising levels of aid. These Cooperations of Development Partners supports are helping Myanmar to reduce inequality, provide essential services, build resilience, and promote sustainable investment.
By aiming for higher quality, more inclusive, and more sustainable growth and those Reforms, which outline the reforms needed to reach the destination. These reforms are ambitious to overcome those challenges of Myanmar since its Independence. Keeping its financial stability, environmental sustainability, and the global rules of the game through those forum for this kind of cooperation, made a strengthened partnership with Myanmar and its Development Partners. They are in fact part of aspirations that will secure the “Myanmar dream” for the next generation.
The initiatives of  the government by adopting a people-centered approach in line with the Framework on Economic and Social Reform (FESR) were done by  reforming the 10 priority areas such as finance and revenue, relaxation of restrictions on trade and foreign investment, development of  the private sector, education  and health sectors, food security and development of the agricultural sector, transparency in government, the mobile phone and internet systems, and development of the basic infrastructure. The administrative and management reforms as the third stage of the reform process is now being undertaken. In order to help achieve economic growth and raise the living standard for all citizens, the government is striving to foster good governance and promote clean government throughout the country.
Various reforms were undertaken within twenty one months of its assumption of duty. Because of these reforms, the international community has made significant changes in their respective policies towards Myanmar, most visibly in the last six months.  Starting from 2013 Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum (MDCF) was held mainly because the international donors who wish to help and partner with Myanmar in its reform process would like to know the priority sectors and areas in the country’s reform strategy and development plans.
We have witnessed that the government’s economic policies focusing on the development of the agricultural sector, creation of a modern industrialized country, narrowing the development gap between States and Regions as well as urban and rural areas, establishing an accurate and reliable statistical data base, and improving the statistical data collection system are on their right tracks. While cooperating with donor countries and organizations in accordance with the five principles of the Paris Declaration-ownership, alignment, harmonization, result-oriented, and mutual accountability—the importance of the effectiveness of development assistance for developing countries are mainly prior.
We also convince the improvements in the living standard of citizens only when all stakeholders in the social and economic sectors work together. These stakeholders may come from the government, the general public, the private sector,  civil society organizations ranging from local non-governmental organizations  (INGOs) to international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and the international donor community. While taking the driver’s seat, all ministries have been urged to effectively utilize the development assistance receive in ways that will help achieve the millennium development goals and strengthen the relationship with the  development partners.  In order to ensure the effectiveness of the development assistance, a monitoring and evaluation mechanism has to be instituted.  By regularly sharing information about the projects and the programs that are being implemented with development partners will enhance economic growth, and utilize the technological knowhow and resources, received from the international community.
One of the Milestones of the achievements during these years is that government can hold the First Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum which was held from 19 to 20 January 2013, the Second Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum from 27 to 28 January 2014 and the Third on 7 to 8 February 2015 respectively in Nay Pyi Taw. At the 1st MDCF, “Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation” was adopted and made public.  The Nay Pyi Taw Accord includes both the Government of Myanmar and development partners’ commitments and obligations.  It is observed that the Government’s commitments under Nay Pyi Taw Accord are also in conformity with the current reform processes being undertaken by the Government.  Moreover, to strengthen cooperation with global partners to ensure better public service delivery, President U Thein Sein highlighted in his Speech at the 1st MDCF on the National Comprehensive Development Plan (NCDP), which consists of a set of  four five-year plans covering  a twenty year period from  2011-2031, as part of the second stage of the reform process to enhance economic development and raise the living standard of Myanmar people. The 1st MDCF was held with the Theme: “Partnerships for Actions, Implementations for Success”.
During the 2nd MDCF, to maintain and accelerate the momentum of development processes, the theme of Forum was chosen as “Accelerating Actions for Progress through Enhancing Inclusive Coordination”. By that theme, we are committed to accelerate our progress with actions; we will achieve tangible results and outcomes through enhancing coordination between the government and development partners, and making our development cooperation to become more inclusive process. Since in 2014, Myanmar has projected 9.1% GDP growth rate for the fiscal year 2014-2015. In order to achieve this targeted growth rate, we systematically managed and utilized development aids and concessional loans, technical assistance, attract local and foreign investment which will support the development of our country. The Government has also formulated first five-year national development plan as well as Myanmar Comprehensive Development Plan. In this regard, these can help our Development Partners to better align their aids, supports and assistance with the country’s development priorities and plans, to continue cooperating with the Government in our reform processes and make their development aids more effective.
Even during its 30 months of assuming the Office, the Government has undertaken four phases of reform process with momentum; namely political reforms, economic reforms, public administration reforms and private sector development reforms. Due to the first phase of political reform measures, favorable conditions for national reconciliation have been created and mutual understanding with the ethnic minority groups has been built in our country.
The second phase of economic and social reforms has been implemented with the people-centered approach. Due to these reform processes, we have achieved good socio-economic development outcome for our country. We have also achieved 7.3% GDP growth rate in 2012-2013 which exceeded more than projected growth rate of 6.7%. This is one of the tangible results of economic development achieved through successful cooperation and collaborations among the State, our People and our development partners.
Here again in 2015, on its remarkable reform process and tackling with its challenges, we are able to hold this 3rd MDCF under the Theme: “Building Upon Foundations-Focusing Towards Future Inclusive Development”.  Discussion at a two-day forum centred on development pathways of strategic importance to Myanmar, human capacity enhancement, land resources management, social protection, rural development and poverty alleviation, the framework for economic and social reforms, policies for national development projects, foreign aid, and future cooperation. The forum also discussed matters related to elections, peace processes and business transactions with development partners. The Union Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, chaired the Day One forum and the discussions of progress on the implementation of the Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation were presented by the Deputy Minister for MNPED and Advisor to the President.
At the 3rd MDCF, the Joint Statement by the European Union was released and expressed their positive views and commended what the Government of Myanmar for all they have achieved and remarkable process of reform, signaling their commitment to engage the country on another path, to listen to aspirations of the people and to work towards improving their lives. Another remarkable significance of 3rd MDCF was that the new Aid Information Management System (AIMS) been provided by EU was launched on the first day of the Forum. EU also committed to continue their technical assistance and increase development assistance in the main areas like peace building, governance-including police reform and elections-rural development, health education, and trade and private sector development.
When we try to make a review on those assistance and partnerships , we can clearly see that they also pledged to strengthen government capacity to lead Myanmar’s development efforts and engage with public and private actors in the planning and implementation process, the development assistance to be more effectively use for all citizens, including the most vulnerable, and help them benefit from and be involved in shaping Myanmar’s transition.
For those Cooperations with Development Partners, their advice, shared accountability and shared learning and experiences to support the implementation of principles that form the foundation of effective development co-operation have been done under the topics like : ownership by developing countries; a focus on results; inclusive development partnerships; and, transparency and accountability to one another.
It is also pointed out by the international organizations and development partners that Inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth could help to reduce devastating levels of poverty and lay the foundations for longer-term prosperity.  Key obstacles to development and economic growth are conflict and the threat of disasters from natural hazards, and sufficient levels of predictable, good- quality aid are essential to meet immediate humanitarian needs and to build resilience. The international community and the aid it provides can be key catalysts, but to be effective there must be coordinated public and private investment, including: investment in essential services and social protection in order to build the capacity of people to be economically active and develop their resilience to shocks; development of fairer tax policies that can reduce inequality and poverty and guarantee sustainable financing for core services such as health, education, and social protection; responsible private sector investment that supports small-scale farmers and especially women in the agricultural sector to benefit from new economic opportunities, respecting their rights to natural resources, and providing secure and decent jobs Clear regulations and standards to ensure that government and businesses  act in ways that protect and respect human rights, and empower poor people  to influence policies and gain fair access to markets; support for active citizenship to allow poor people to influence policies and participate in investment decisions; targeted actions to reduce risk for marginalized and disadvantaged people –including disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and humanitarian response to ensure that no one is left behind and that prosperity is shared.
The Government of Myanmar has shown leadership in taking the first step towards good quality aid by agreeing the Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation, a commitment that sets out how the government will ensure that development cooperation is accountable, democratic, and targeted towards reducing poverty and inequality. Despite the strong rhetoric in the Nay Pyi Taw Accord, the commitments are both ambitious and wider ranging, making it difficult for the government to prioritize implementation. While some efforts have been made, the involvement of civil society in consultations on their design has been very limited and participation restricted to a handful of working groups. In addition, key policy processes, such as the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms and the National Comprehensive Development Plan, have been, and continue to be, developed with insufficient engagement of civil society. Given the limited democratic space in Myanmar, this lack of sufficient engagement with civil society is a huge missed opportunity to systematically strengthening people’s engagement in strategic decision making.
The traditional division between humanitarian and development aid makes it difficult to achieve aid effectiveness. Critically, the development of Myanmar’s aid architecture offers a unique opportunity to bridge this gap and facilitate the building of resilience to shocks, stresses, and uncertainty. Kick start equitable growth, build resilience and promote responsible investment Myanmar’s new wave of political reforms has set a direction for unprecedented  economic expansion.
Those key obstacles to development and economic growth are conflict and the threat of disasters from natural hazards, and sufficient levels of predictable, good quality aid are essential to meet immediate humanitarian needs and to build resilience.
The Government of Myanmar should embrace aid effectiveness principles and ensure aid serves as a catalyst for democratic reform. In particular it is advisable to make consultation with development partners, civil society and the Assembly of the Union, a plan to monitor progress on the Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation. Publicly endorse the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard and strongly encourage all development partners to report aid flows in accordance with this standard. Urgently consult with civil society on the rollout of the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms and the development of the National Comprehensive Development Plan; ensure meaningful participation in the lead up to and during the review of progress following the first National Development Cooperation Forum. Ensure that aid coordination mechanisms are fully inclusive by formalizing civil society participation at all levels and encouraging dialogue among government, development partners, and civil society.
Increase the transparency of development processes by implementing the commitments on budget transparency set out in the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms. Ensure that aid coordination mechanisms support resilience building by facilitating coordinated or integrated work across traditional humanitarian and development boundaries. Good quality aid can play a key role in supporting transformative development in Myanmar if it is accountable, transparent, and owned by the people it aims to support; f it expands the space for the democratic voice of the people to be heard by decision makers; and if it helps to deliver equitable growth. Both the government and development partners must take action to ensure that this path is as inclusive and sustainable as possible.  How aid can catalyse democratic reform through promoting domestic accountability, increasing transparency in government processes, and strengthening accountability in core government functions have to be reviewed.
To deepen the democratic reforms, by supporting democratic accountability can empower the government and people to fight poverty and inequality. Aid can strengthen this democratic relationship, making it more accountable through supporting active citizens and effective states by: supporting civil society organizations (CSOs) and the public to put up their concerns to government.  In this regard, the assistance of Development Partners can help in several sectors like to increase transparency in government processes, build the capacity of CSOs to monitor budgetary and other government processes, strengthen government functions and ensure a fair distribution of growth and prosperity. Moreover it can support to strengthen the role of citizens too.
The role of effective aid in catalyzing the growth of democratic space and make convince of  governments that international aid effectiveness principles to set out how aid could be better targeted to support people and countries to paths to be out of poverty and into democratic prosperity are also essential for the Development Partners and Government. By studying the following Chart, it is seen that with the Alignment of Aid effectiveness and NCDP, there are about more than 700 hundred activities and among them 84 % of them are ongoing.
In her Recommendations, Deputy Minister for MNPED highlighted the following points:
•    Myanmar has substantial progress in the field of development cooperation in a very short period of time.
•    Strong and effective partnerships with the development partners have been forged and built a solid foundation that should ensure continued success.
•    Development cooperation efforts are asked to be redoubled in 2015 in an inclusive and open manner, ensuring that progress is jointly monitored.
•    With the soon-to-be launched NCDP, development projects and programmes remain aligned and harmonized are to be ensured. Initial analysis suggesting a degree of alignment is already in place.
•    The assistance of the development partners is to be ensured to strengthen country systems with a view to channeling aid resources through these systems in future.
Moreover, in his presentation on the Progress Report of Implementation of the Framework of Economic and Social Reforms, 2013-15, President’s Economic Advisor Dr Zaw Oo also pointed out on institutional innovation to sustain better results, technological leapfrogging to attain higher results and capacity building and human resource development.
After holding the 3rd MDCF, which was participated by the Stakeholders included the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Members of Parliament, and representatives from political parties, international development partners, representatives of international and local civil society, the private sector and academia,  the joint commitments expressed within the Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation, the localization of global development effectiveness principles in Myanmar were recalled and reaffirmed. The Joint Statement for 3rd MDCF was issued and committed to looking toward the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and seek to remain a committed partner, both sharing and receiving lessons learned as progressed upon the development effectiveness journey of Myanmar.
If we look back the last 20 years, the international development debate has been dominated by two trends: reducing poverty in developing countries in its various dimensions and sustainability of development. Both agendas have a lot in common, but in contrast to the MDGs, the proponents of SDGs see poverty as merely one of a number of global issues to be addressed. At present,  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 17 goals and 169 targets,  which is expected to be adopted by September 2015, as part of a broader post-2015 development agenda, replacing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which was targeted to be achieved by 2015 with its 8 Goals.
Myanmar is not only committed to move forward to its destiny for “New Myanmar” with its “People-centered Approach” but also to fulfill the global commitments.  From 2011, we have tried to speed up as it was on its half way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is a landmark global agreement to be attained by 2015.  Those Poverty Alleviation Plan of Action and Strategic Thrusts on reducing poverty and related deprivations at the national level were laid down.  At the same time for our regional commitment, we have tried to be in line with our ASEAN Member states on ASEAN Community Building to be achieved by 2015 too. Last but not least, we have made resolution to focus on sustainable development which embraces the bottom line approach to human wellbeing as it will be constructive contribution for Post 2015.

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