MYANMAR DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION FORUM Opening Remarks by Dr. Ashok Nigam, UN Resident Coordinator

19 January, 2013, Naypyitaw
Your Excellency Minister Kan Zaw, Your Excellencies Union Ministers, Ambassadors, Representatives of Donor Agencies and UN Agencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to be present at this very important first Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum and to deliver remarks on behalf of the UN system in Myanmar.

I would like to compliment the Government of Myanmar for organising this Forum.
Let me start by saying the voices of the people of Myanmar that we heard in the video speak volumes of their desires – in quality education, health, HIV/AIDS and decent jobs.
For achieving the desires of the people of Myanmar, we welcome the reforms in the areas of democratisation, inclusive growth and poverty reduction, and peace being undertaken by the Government under the leadership of President U Thein Sein.
The identification of a number of “Quick Wins” in the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms (FESR) demonstrates a strategic decision by the Government to achieve concrete results in the short-term while laying out the foundation of sustainable and equitable development in the longer term.
We welcome the emphasis on achieving the MDGs which is very noteworthy as the milestone of 2015 is fast approaching. But we know that challenges remain.
We welcome the priority being accorded to health and education in the FESR, not just to quantity but also to quality, which is critically important for people to see the dividend of the reform measures being undertaken by the Government. Similarly, the FESR has recognised the importance of agriculture.
As Ambassador Hines has noted, Myanmar is prone to humanitarian challenges which must be addressed side-by-side with development.
The need for reliable statistics, disaggregated by gender where relevant, remains. The Government’s decision to conduct a population census in 2014 after nearly 30 years will provide valuable data for national planning, development and governance. The UN is pleased to support this effort.
The UN with other multi-lateral and bi-lateral partners is also engaged in strengthening the statistical base in the country. It is encouraging to see the importance that the President has given to statistics in his remarks today.
I would emphasize that the MDGs are embedded in the Millennium Declaration. The Declaration highlights the importance of democracy, human rights and good governance. This normative framework is very relevant in Myanmar and it is encouraging to see that these principles are being emphasized at the highest level.
While agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, industry, through its backward and forward linkages, has high potential for decent work. The FESR notes a number of new policy proposals. As a “late-comer”, Myanmar can and is taking advantage of the lessons learned and good practices from other countries as it designs its policies and strategies.
Private sector development and foreign direct investment will be critical for growth in Myanmar. The UN Global Compact promotes corporate responsibility in support of responsible investment.
There should also be a strong connection between policy and implementation for the improvement in the lives of the people of Myanmar. In this context, the President’s recent announcement of the third wave of reforms is most encouraging.
Peace, national reconciliation and harmony in all the States and Regions are critical to the economic and social development of the entire country and the realization of the vision of the FESR. Mutual trust and changes in mindsets will be needed. The Government has recognized the importance of strengthening the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights. I am glad to see the urgency for legal reforms that has emerged from your public consultations. Leadership will be required at all levels from the community to the highest level of Government to make all of this happen.
As noted in the FESR, the essence of partnership is mutual accountability. It calls on donors and the Government to implement the FESR in a transparent and accountable manner. Both parts of this mutual accountability are equally important and the UN system supports this approach which will help build national capacity and ownership.
In conclusion may I take the opportunity to once again reiterate the readiness of the UN system in Myanmar to work in close partnership with the Government.
Thank you.