Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Many things need attention under NLD-led government

As the NLD-led government enters its second year, it still enjoys the support of the people and seems to be going strong. The government gives top priority to bringing peace to the whole country. It believes that only after reaching this goal, the rule of law will be firmly established and economic development will be achieved.

We have to recall that the NLD came to power using the slogan “Let’s change”. So people who voted for them are eager to see more drastic changes in many areas. Some critics are saying that change is not happening fast enough. They said that the one change they noticed is that all union ministers and all state and regional chief ministers are free from taking bribes. But at the lower level, it still must be admitted that not much has changed. In fact, there is still a very long way to go to crush bribery at all levels of government that deal directly with the people. It has still not satisfactorily reduced the level of corruption, much less eradicated it completely. So people are still greatly suffering in this regard.

Another important thing to take into account is that the country’s economy still remains in the red because exports are falling, and the foreign current exchange rate remains high. Accordingly consumer prices are increasing every day. Last year, tourist arrivals fell sharply. Large-scale foreign direct investment (FDI) did not happen as expected, apparently due to a lack of confidence in Myanmar. As a result, not much new employment is being created. To sum up, the new government is struggling with diverse challenges.

Under these circumstances, the new government cannot make changes that bring progress in all the fields where it is urgently needed. Instead, it must prioritise where change is most urgently needed. The wishes of the people in these matters must be listened to carefully by all levels of the administration.

Another important fact is that though the government is said to have been engaging in the process of change, it can be seen that the level of centralisation of power is still high. So it will be necessary to carry out more decentralization. In addition, the Union government and state and regional governments must take full responsibility and accountability, which is easier said than done.

Some critics point out that the government is weak in public administration, but I want to say that all previous governments have been weak in this area.

It is natural to encounter challenges when efforts are made to change, but most of these challenges can be resolved. The government just needs to be resolute, timely and systematic. While the government is responsible for meeting the needs of the people, it must be noted that the people’s wishes can only be realised through systematic planning.

Only when political matters and economic challenges are attended to at the same time will weakness be considerably reduced. Moreover, we have to realise that everything needs attention. That is part of the problem.


The author is a veteran journalist writing on Myanmar’s politics