Social protection programmes steadily on the rise in Myanmar: Vice President U Myint Swe

Vice President U Myint Swe addresses the second meeting of the National Level Social Protection Committee held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. photo: mna
Vice President U Myint Swe addresses the second meeting of the National Level Social Protection Committee held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. photo: MNA

The National Level Social Protection Committee held its second meeting at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Vice President U Myint Swe, who is Chairman of the committee, delivered a speech at the meeting.

Background of the committee
The Vice President first explained the committee’s purpose and objectives. He said it is important development for the reduction of poverty and development of human resources, which was among the priority tasks of the State. According to worldwide research findings, social protection projects were most effective for poverty reduction and human resources development. The President’s Office formed an 11-member National Level Social Protection Committee, led by the Vice President, on 17 May 2018, and established 11 main projects to allow the government to conduct social protection programmes throughout the country.

Ten decisions were put forward in the committee’s first meeting of which three have been accomplished, said the Vice President, adding that this meeting will put forward approval for three of the remaining seven decisions, and the rest will be handled with subsequent subcommittees formed.

Maternity and child allowance to age 2
The Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan – NSPSP was validated on 30 December 2014 to implement social protection programmes in the country. Of the eight programmes included in NSPSP, the maternity and child to age 2 financial support programme is conducted throughout the states and regions while giving priority based on average nutritional levels and least development statistics, said the Vice President.
The Vice President said the programme was initiated in Chin State, Rakhine State, and Naga Self-Administered Zone in 2017-2018 FY, expanded into Kayin and Kayah states in 2018-2019 FY, and have drafted plans to expand into Ayeyawady Region and Shan State in 2019-2020 FY with mixed proportions of the International Development Association Fund and Government budget.

Social pension and protection
The Vice President said the social pension programme was launched in 2017-2018 FY and offered to senior citizens of age 90 and older. The age standard was reduced to 85 in 2018-2019 FY and continued to be offered nationwide. The integrated social protection services programme is also ongoing in 37 townships that have opted for it and social affairs managers are positioned in each township.
The Vice President said the Medium-term Costed Sector Plan (2018-2023) has been drafted and will support the social protection programmes. He said the projected cost for this plan is calculated in line with the NSPSP.

Four main points to consider
The Vice President then spoke about four main points to consider when implementing social protection programmes. First, it must be ensured that it was in line with the policies and priorities set by the state. Care should be taken so that the sustainable development programme for Myanmar and the Myanmar National Social Protection Strategic Plan were carried out in accordance with one another.
The second point was to obtain funds and the ability to bear the cost in the long run. These two points were to be considered together. Funds could be used from the State budget, but there was a limitation on how much could be used. As such, other resources, such as financial support/assistance and low interest loans, also need to be considered.
Investments in the social protection sector would not show significant returns in the short term, but results such as reducing the income gap between the rich and the poor, rising nutrition and health indexes, and increased developments in childhood education need to be displayed as proof. Only then can this sector attract investments.
The third was to set up a system for country-wide implementation. This system would include management, and an information and funding system.
The fourth focused on coordination. A committee had been formed to coordinate among the government ministries. For coordination between government ministries and partner organizations, the social protection and disaster management sector coordination groups have been formed. These two would help establish better coordination.

Vice Chair and secretary present explanations
Next, the national committee’s Vice Chairman, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye, explained the completed and future tasks relating to the NSPSP. This was followed by the committee’ secretary Director-General
Dr. Daw San San Aye explaining the implementation process of the first meeting’s decisions, proposal for forming a working committee and technological support committee, earmarking the Medium-term Costed Sector Plan, and future tasks.
Discussions continued with input from national committee Vice Chairman Union Minister U Thein Swe, deputy ministers Maj-Gen Aung Thu, U Tin Myint, U Win Maw Tun, and U Soe Aung, and permanent secretaries and directors-general. The Vice President then responded to the discussions and concluded the meeting with a closing speech. —MNA (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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