My latest op-ed was published in Monday’s edition of the Myanmar Times.
The article provides a brief summary of Myanmar’s democratic and economic reforms as they relate to the country’s management of their public finances. A summary of the article and a link to the full piece is provided below.
Catalysing transition through public financial management reform
By Giles Dickenson-Jones and Matthew Arnold
Public financial management reforms are central to Myanmar’s entire transition. Improvements to social services like garbage collection, investment in new roads and bridges, and raising standards of health and education are all premised on the government being able to raise more revenue and then effectively spend it achieving policy goals. In order for the National League for Democracy government to achieve its goals for economic and political reform, it is therefore a critical area for prioritisation.
See here for the full article.
Another blog post and another research report focusing on Myanmar’s taxation system:
Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in Myanmar: Current Processes and Future Priorities in Public Financial Management Reform
This was my final research report developed at Myanmar’s Centre for Economic and Social Development.
The paper ‘Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in Myanmar’ takes a look at how Myanmar’s State, Region and Union governments relate to each other as part of budget and planning processes.
Although it is targeted at a more general audience, it has been developed in the interest of providing greater clarity around the informal and formal processes that inform public budget processes and fiscal decentralization in Myanmar.
As somebody who started his career in government, I think perhaps one strengths of this report was that many of the initial findings were tested at the drafting stage as part of an interactive workshop the team held in Naypyitaw.
Yet another quiet couple of months on the blogging front can be explained by me feverishly working on a number of projects as I reach my 2 year anniversary in Myanmar. The latest of these has been the launching of the Open Myanmar Initiative’s Budget Dashboard, which is now available online here:
The website, which I helped develop using the open-source R language and the free Shiny library provides the first user-friendly interface for exploring Myanmar’s budgets both at the Union level and across all 14 States and Regions.
Although there is still a long way to go before citizens become genuinely engaged with the budget process, I think this is a significant first step in the right direction and will allow interested citizens, researchers and businesses to more easily examine where public money is spent, so a conversation about where it should be spent can be had. I’m also encouraged to see public finances have been included in the National League for Democracy’s economic polices.
The budget dashboard is part of the Asia Foundation’s support of an open budget process in Myanmar in partnership with the Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI). OMI’s Budget explorer was developed by Ewan Keith, Loren Velasquez and Giles Dickenson-Jones with the help of Statistics Without Borders.
More information about the project is available here.
* Postscript: As an update, the original budget dashboard described in this post has since been taken over (and greatly improved!) by the locally based budget and parliamentary transparency organization ‘The Ananda’. The link has been updated to reflect this.
For the few of you who might be interested in knowing more about how Myanmar’s taxation system works outside of the union government, I’ve recently published a briefing note with a colleague on the topic. The note is available online here.