Thursday, July 27, 2017

Myanmar becomes fastest growing aid recipient in the region

Myanmar are one of the two largest recipients of humanitarian aid to Southeast Asia and is the fastest growing aid recipient in the region, speakers at an aid conference said.

Myanmar is the fastest growing aid recipient in the region. Graphic - Twitter/UNDPMyanmar is the fastest growing aid recipient in the region. Graphic - Twitter/UNDP

U Tun Tun Naing, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Finance, said that the three shifts which are on the horizon must be given full consideration if Myanmar wants to move forward robustly. He made the comments during the Aid & Development Asia Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw on June 14 and 15.

“The first is the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] and the role these will play when considering our national development priorities. Myanmar has renewed its commitment in supporting achievement of the SDGs, and takes these goals very seriously.

“Our Central Statistical Office has committed itself to identifying local data sources to monitor our progress and we hope that our new Sector Coordination Groups, all of which align to one or more SDGs, will play an important role in this regard,” he said.

The second major shift is Myanmar’s increased emphasis on high quality, sector-driven planning.

The permanent secretary cited examples such as the National Education Strategic Plan, the National Health Plan and Agricultural Development Strategy. He said these would provide a high quality, comprehensive set of “costed and sequenced priorities”.

“Taken together with Myanmar’s National Economic Policy launched last year, we can see that Myanmar today has clear view of where we are heading, and the support we require to get there,” he continued.

The third shift is the breadth and dedication of support that Myanmar now enjoys.

“Whereas we must acknowledge there may have been a degree of scepticism during those early years of reform, I think we can all agree and that old barriers preventing collaboration no longer exist,” he said.  

Peter Batchelor, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country director, highlighted several points.

He said the Philippines and Myanmar are the largest recipients of humanitarian aid to Southeast Asia. Myanmar is the fastest growing aid recipient in the region.

“In 2017, Myanmar will receive approximately US$2 billion, and is the fastest growing aid recipient in the region, with a 451% increase in the 5 years since 2012 ... Aid, trade and FDI are having profound effects on the country,” he said.

“In almost all Southeast Asian countries except Myanmar, aid flows are stagnating or decreasing.

“Interestingly, countries which benefited from foreign assistance before, such as Thailand and Indonesia, are now supporting other countries in return,” he explained.

He also pointed out that Myanmar is the second largest recipient of grants after Indonesia

“Most aid is in the form of grants, except in the Vietnam case, where the country received $2.4 billion of loans. Myanmar is the second largest recipient of grants after Indonesia,” he said.

Peter Batchelor added that, in terms of central spending, the dominating sectors are economic infrastructure like in energy and then social infrastructures.

“Interestingly in terms of humanitarian assistance, the Philippines and Myanmar are the highest recipients in the region. The Philippines and Myanmar are [probably] the most risky countries in the region when faced with natural disasters,” he went on.

During the sideline interview with The Myanmar Times, U Tun Tun Naing insisted that aid and development assistance play an important role in Myanmar’s economic reform process by getting loans. 

“Myanmar is trying to take off in different sectors, and aid and development projects can help.

“It has to be utilised properly and effectively on areas which need development assistant and loans. I am sure that the aid and development projects will flow better than the past years,” he said.

U Myint Lwin, program director of Helen Keller International said there have been accusations that aid is not fully getting on the ground level, but he said that it is not possible to provide loan or aid directly to the affected communities as they don’t have the financial management capacity.