Myanmar Speaker Series: How to support sub-national parliaments effectively? 2020 Elections

November 5, 2020. Ms. Myat The Thitsar, Mr. Ivo Balinov & Mr. Thomas (Tom) Cormier.

Decentralization as mandated by the 2008 Constitution re-introduced state/region governments and legislatures across Myanmar. This represents a central issue for the country’s long term development. The 14 sub-national legislatures have the responsibility to debate and pass local legislation and also have the formal role to debate and approve local budgets and oversee their spending. The potential of the ongoing peace process leading to the negotiation of a federal model of governance means that the roles of sub-national institutions, including parliaments, would continue to increase substantially. Against this background, the bulk of international support remains focused at the union level in the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw. Less attention is paid to sub-national parliaments across the 14 states and regions in the country. The parliamentary elections scheduled for November 8, 2020 have the potential of making sub-national parliaments even more ethnically diverse and of increasing the number of women parliamentarians.

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Myanmar Speaker Series: What is the road to improving health services in ethnic states?

October 21, 2020.

Myanmar is undergoing a transition from military to civilian rule since 2011 and government expenditure on health has increased from 1% in 2010 to 3.4% in 2015, still one of the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region. Though health sector decentralization is said to be put in place, the progress so far has not been assessed. There is limited information on how resources are managed and how well is decentralization progressing. The current system favors top-down decision-making, creating vast gaps of expectations between decision-makers and communities in states/regions, townships and villages/wards. In ethnic states, the delivery of health service remains unequal and insufficient due to poor governance, limited budgets, outdated facilities, and lack of supplies and health staff. Moreover, in such resource-poor setting, the gap between community expectations and what service providers can actually offer remains enormous, and needs to be closed.

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Myanmar Speaker Series: How to equip sub national parliaments for evidence based policy making ?

October 7, 2020.

Decentralization as mandated by the 2008 Constitution re-introduced state/region governments and legislatures across Myanmar. This represents a central issue for the country’s long term development. The 14 sub-national legislatures have the responsibility to debate and pass local legislation and also have the formal role to debate and approve local budgets and oversee their spending. The potential of the ongoing peace process leading to the negotiation of a federal model of governance means that the roles of sub-national institutions, including parliaments, would continue to increase substantially. Against this background, the bulk of international support remains focused at the union level in the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw. Less attention is paid to sub-national parliaments across the 14 states and regions in the country. The parliamentary elections scheduled for November 8, 2020 have the potential of making sub-national parliaments even more ethnically diverse and of increasing the number of women parliamentarians.

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Myanmar Speaker Series: Can Decentralization Improve Education in Myanmar ?

October 1, 2020

Following the start of the country’s various reforms in 2011, public funding for education has significantly increased, leading to an important rise in access. The primary net enrollment rate increased from 88% in 2009-10 to 93 percent in 2014-15. Net enrollment in pre-primary education saw an impressive growth between 2008 – when roughly 1 in 20 children were enrolled – and 2014 when nearly 1 in 4 children were enrolled. The National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) 2016-21 represents an important milestone for education in Myanmar, as the country’s very first education sector plan in the context of a major transition towards democracy.

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Myanmar Speaker Series: How can policing improve in ethnic states under the new government of Myanmar?

September 16, 2020.

Myanmar’s challenges regularly make headlines. The efforts to reform the Myanmar Police Force remains a hopeful step forward in the transformation of the country’s security. The 2008 Constitution states that the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services is the chief of all the armed organizations, and, as a result, the Myanmar Police Force remains under the Home Affairs Ministry, led by a military-appointed minister. Along with the democratic reforms since 2011, the force has moved towards a more decentralized, more gender and ethnic sensitive institution, still struggling to focus on control vs service-orientation. Currently, the police in Myanmar are severely overstretched to meet their mandate. Laws, regulation, strategies and training are outdated; facilities and equipment are old and often in poor condition by Southeast Asian and global standards. More disturbingly, the police are not present in some parts of the country where crime and related public security issues are most challenging. The police are facing increasingly sophisticated ethnic armed groups as well as transnational organized crime involved in drugs and human trafficking. The recent MIPS 2020 Annual Review on Peace and Security has highlighted some of these severe security challenges.

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Myanmar Speaker Series: Will 2020 Elections Increase Myanmar’s Decentralization?

June 17, 2020. Dr. Alex Pelletier & Dr. Jacques Bertrand.

Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution established a more decentralized structure, with partially elected sub-national governments with new financial and administrative functions. Since the 2011 transition and the 2015 civilian-led rule, the Myanmar government continues the working with the 2008 Constitution–rather than replacing it—while pledging to decentralize key areas of policy to local and state governments. As the 2020 election looms now in the horizon, it is time to take stock of how decentralization has advanced in the country.

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