Myanmar promoting ‘inclusive development’

By Angela Goh

Myanmar’s economic reform is shaping up to be an ‘inclusive economic development’ model closely linked to promoting peace and security for the nation, says Ye Min Aung, executive committee member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, at a roundtable hosted by Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur on 9 July 2012.

Inclusive economic development, he explained, would involve promoting private sector participation and encouraging foreign investment, while the government continued with its current peace-building process through political dialogue.

The government placed emphasis on stepping up agriculture and agro-based industries as well as boosting rural development with the aim of alleviating poverty, added Ye Min, who is also the Secretary-General of Myanmar Rice Industry Association.

The government, he said, had targeted to reduce poverty levels to 16% by 2015 from the current 26% official rate, which analysts argue was as high as 50%.

Another priority for the government is increasing productivity in the energy, infrastructure and private sectors, as well as promoting human and social development, he noted.

One of the ways to alleviate poverty was through intensifying rice production, stressed Dr Tin Htut, rector of Yezin Agricultural University, at the roundtable. The government, he added, aimed to turn the agriculture sector from a resource-based activity to one which was knowledge-based.

For that to succeed, Dr Tin Htut, said there was an urgent need for capacity-building at all levels. According to him, the workforce in Myanmar was in dire need of skills-training in leadership, management and planning. According to Ye Min, the question on the minds of many in Myanmar was whether the country was pushing economic reforms too fast or too slow.

Wall Street Journal on 10 July reported that there remains some debate among top leaders over how fast the reforms should be implemented, and what role the military, which remains influential, should play.

Nevertheless, Myanmar’s economy is expected to grow by 6.2% this year, up from 5.5% in 2011 and 5.3% in 2010, said Ye Min, with the bulk of foreign investment coming from China, South Korea and Thailand.

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