Job creation, inclusive growth priority in economic policy

By NYAN HLAING LYNN in NAY PYI TAW &
KYAW PHONE KYAW in YANGON

THE government has promised to promote a level playing field and inclusive growth in a long awaited but brief economic policy launched in Nay Pyi Taw on July 29.

The policy comprises 12 points across three pages, and is very light on detail. Speaking at the launch in Nay Pyi Taw, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said sector-specific policies would be issued later.

“We know the importance of investment, energy and infrastructure, so we will issue detailed policy papers. Today is just a general economic policy,” she said.

The policy confirms the government’s commitment to a “market policy system” across all sectors and promoting a level playing field between businesses by ending monopolies. It promises to cut red tape and make doing business easier, shift more government functions online and encourage job creation.

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The policy also outlines broad plans to reform the financial sector and state-owned enterprises, expand access to credit, encourage foreign investment, develop infrastructure and strengthen public financial management, including budget transparency.

The drafting process was led by Minister for Finance and Planning U Kyaw Win. Asked why it took four months to issue a three-page general policy that broadly mirrors a draft policy leaked to the media last year, he conceded the process had taken too long.

“I admit the policy took longer than needed. It’s because we spent a lot of time considering the points, again and again,” he said.

Kyaw Win said the focus on job creation was one of the policy’s most important elements. “Seventy percent of the people in Myanmar are poor. Only if we create a living for them can we develop the country. That’s why we are prioritising labour-intensive businesses.”

The launch proved controversial due to a media lockout, with most journalists forced to wait outside the Myanmar International Convention Centre 2. Only reporters from state media and broadcasters Skynet and DVB were granted access to the launch, which was attended by diplomats, donors and government officials.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, which organised the event, reportedly said that journalists needed media passes from the Ministry of Information. Ministry of Information officials said they knew nothing about the passes.

However, sympathetic officials quietly provided a copy of the policy to the media, and allowed them to place voice recorders in the venue to record the speeches.

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