Monday, 15 August 2016

NLD's economic "blueprint" and income inquality in Myanmar

"The increasing polarity in this country needs to be tackled immediately, especially between the rich and poor, as the gap between them has been growing. If it's not tackled, it could derail our long-term  quest for democracy," said Maung Maung Lay.
Some see the policy paper as little different from what was pursued under the previous administration of Thein Sein. "The difference is we'll implement it, unlike the previous government," said Hanthar Myint, an NLD economic adviser and a member of the new national economic coordinating committee under the president. The policy document includes a commitment to develop a skilled workforce to fill the jobs created in the manufacturing and services sectors. To support this goal, the government plans improvements in healthcare and education, especially vocational training. "The country's human resources and capacity is very weak," said Maung Maung Lay. "We desperately need to develop more vocational training." This is the key to future economic development, according to Zaw Naing, CEO of Mandalay Technologies and founder of the Myanmar Business Executives Association. Vocational training centres are urgently needed to produce engineers and craftsmen -- electricians, carpenters and plumbers -- and hotel management schools, according to Zaw Naing. "While we cannot compare with Singapore and its service-oriented training, we can provide technically trained people to support the growth of the manufacturing sector," he said... "We have to create jobs to absorb the unemployed workers, especially those laid off recently from the suspended construction projects," he said. The need for jobs is even more important in light of plans to encourage thousands of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand to return home as the economy improves. Another part of the job-creation scheme is to push on with the Special Economic Zones established under the previous government. Attracting foreign investment is also crucial, said Hanthar Myint, mentioning the garment sector in particular. But he conceded that labour unrest and strikes, which seem to be on the increase, may discourage some investors... Food security needs to be guaranteed as soon as possible, according to the government's economic policy. The agriculture sector still contributes 40% of the country's GDP, while employing 70% of the labour force. This has to be rectified as quickly as possible, says the NLD economic team. "Seventy percent of the people in Myanmar are poor. Only if we create a living for them can we develop the country," said Kyaw Win.

"Myanmar's new economic blueprint," Bangkok Post, 14 August 2016

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