Session on Central control economic system to market economy system in Democratic Transition Forum

Central economy
Discussion session on central control economic system to market economy system in progress. Photo: MNA

A session on “Central control economic system to market economy system” was held in Forum of Myanmar Democratic Transition at Myanmar International Convention Center-2, Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
The session paper was read and discussed by Professor Dr. Andreas Oberheitmann on challenges and opportunities in economic development of Myanmar, indicators to judge economic development, reform and development of East Germany economy and lessons learnt from Germany unification including nationalization of big and small scale businesses, socio economic development, investment sector, reform of administrative and regulatory bodies for economic development, reforming government and government owned businesses, financial control system, freedom of central bank, setting policy to enable free competition, challenges on all inclusivity in development, removal of difference in social status, reconstruction of East Germany, basic infrastructure sector, technology and digital technology for economic development, challenges and opportunities.
Deputy Minister for Commerce U Aung Htoo took over as chairperson for the forum in the discussion session that follows with Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance U Set Aung, National League for Democracy (NLD) central economic committee member U Lay Nyunt, Renaissance Institute Myanmar chairman U Myo Myint and former World Bank and Asia Development Bank executive director Dr. Thein Swe discussing “Central control economic system to market economy system”.
Deputy Minister U Aung Htoo said Myanmar didn’t transit directly from central controlled economy to market economy but can be seen going through several stages, from Revolutionary Council and Burma Socialist Program Party (controlled economy) through Tatmadaw government, democracy transition era to civilian government. There are good and bad in both controlled and market economy but if market economy was practiced since independence, we could be at the same level as other ASEAN countries.
U Myo Myint deemed the internal strives since independence and narcotic as the major challenges faced. Looking at the economic front, export value is declining, trading is resulting in deficit while income from export were not flowing back into the country. Exchange rate is not stable and production capacity, especially in the agriculture sector is declining.
Economy is stagnant and it is important to know the actual reason for this stagnation. The first challenge is the limitation of the constitution. 25 per cent of the Hluttaw is occupied by Tatmadaw personnel while defence, border and home affairs were controlled by the Tatmadaw. Police Force and General Administration Department are important organisations for administration but were not under the affective control of the civilian government.
This is a very important challenge and another related challenge is the low capacity of the bureaucracy and deeply entrenched corruption. National League for Democracy party knew these before entering the election and becoming a government. It is the responsibility of the government in power to achieve the changes expected by the people and resolve the problems faced by the people. The government is seen to be slow in doing what need and should be done. The most important challenge is the lack of cooperation.
Cooperation lacks between ministries, central and state and region governments, party and government, hluttaw and government. There is no coordination and all engulfing programs were not set and implemented. Challenges can be overcome considerably if transparent and precise aims and programs were worked on collectively. It is important to stabilize the country’s economy first. Market, workforce and exchange rate need to be stabilized in an economy. Development that is all inclusive and equal is a challenge said U Myo Myint.
NLD central economic committee member U Lay Nyunt said in 1960, Myanmar is at the top among south east Asian countries. There isn’t much difference in 1970 with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. During that time our country is under a central control economy and by 1980s south east Asian countries were practicing the division of power. The main point to state is that Myanmar is now at the bottom in ASEAN and neighboring countries and long term aims are need to develop the country.
Deputy Minister U Set Aung said transition work could not be accomplished in a single step. It is an ongoing process. In conducting transition work, not only the government but the people also need to have the capacity. Transition in any country faces difficulties. Myanmar faces more challenges than others. Furthermore (overcoming) most challenges depended on good and friendly relations and connections.
There were many speculations in our economy and this is not right and good for the country’s long term prospect. Having a closed, pre-set mindset is also a challenge. The final challenge is the country’s economy that is yet to recover. Thus a good investment environment need to be developed.
Former World Bank and Asia Development Bank executive director Dr. Thein Swe discussed on the requirement of a Time- bound Action Plan for a country’s development. Public Private Partnership is also a priority that needs to be done.
Session attendees then raised questions and the discussion panelists answered and provided explanation.
The session was attended by Union Ministers Dr. Pe Myint, Dr. Win Myat Aye, Deputy Ministers, Hluttaw representatives, foreign and local experts, paper readers, discussion participators, representatives of foreign and local civil society organisations, observers, invited guests and officials.

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