Government speeds up national development strategy reforms for flourishing of social environment where people can do well apart from rise in GDP figures
Government builds Myanmar society where equality and harmony flourish by reinforcing social protection amidst rapid reforms
25 June 2012
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein delivered an address at the opening ceremony of Social Protection Conference held at Grand Ballroom of Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Zone, here, at 8.30 am 25-6-2012.
Also present on the occasion were Union Ministers, Hluttaw Committee members, deputy ministers, region and state ministers, departmental heads, representatives of UNICEF (Myanmar), experts from international community, representatives of NGOs, guests and officials.
On the occasion, the President said:
Today’s Social Protection Conference is a national level meeting. We hope this conference will produce sound results that can be linked with reform strategy for national development.
In fact, the word “Social Protection” has a broader meaning and to realize it entirely is a huge challenge for a developing country like us. Social Protection Strategy Framework needs comprehensiveness as well as all-inclusiveness. It is an important requirement. Moreover, it must be in conformity with the government-sponsored national socioeconomic development strategies. Based on requirements of multiple classes and sectors including social protection projects for children, the vulnerable, the aged, women and the disabled, we must adopt a Myanmar Social Protection System. Assistance and support of the international organizations including the UN, other organizations such as NGOs, and internal and external humanitarian organizations have an important role in social protection coverage.
Because of the inequalities stemming from class disparity and income distribution gap, the vulnerable in our country are facing difficulties. Although policies vary among countries in adopting a wide-scale social protection network depending on their objective conditions their goals are the same. In our country rural and border areas lag behind in development, so their socioeconomic level is low when compared with the urban. Regional disparity rises from transport, infrastructural and economic opportunities.
The government adopted the Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Strategy soon after taking the State duties. It is now implementing the strategy. Our country’s poverty rate is still high when compared with regional counterparts, and all-round socio-economic development of low-income people is our priority task. As microeconomic level socioeconomic development has relations with stable and sound macro economy, we are implementing macroeconomic reform strategy as a second priority.
The basic need of every citizen is comprehensive health care as well as income security or in other words job security. This requirement calls for opportunities such as the access to education and social security. The government has been enacting new laws, amending the existing ones and revoking out-of-date laws as necessary to promote rights of workers and farmers and holding workshops on the establishment of a universal health insurance system for low-income rural people. We are in the process of enacting a law to fix minimum wage for workers to enjoy basic social rights they deserve.
Government has already speeded up our national development strategy reforms for flourishing of a social environment where people can do well apart from rise in GDP figures. During the past few weeks, we have explained in detail the means to implement the Second Wave Reform Strategy. We firmly believe we can collectively build a Myanmar society where equality and harmony flourish by reinforcing social protection amidst the rapid reforms.
But, let me say frankly the task is formidable for a developing country like us. We need a lot of assistance from international organizations and NGOs. Unless there is energetic cooperation, integrated and all inclusive Myanmar social protection system could not be built firmly as we aspire. In all seriousness, I would like to invite scholars, UN agencies and international organizations here to join hands with us. I would like to request you to fill the gaps for the vulnerable, children and the aged. I would like you to help them find greener pasture and pleasure of life and to resurrect the hopes of the jobless and low-income people.
Our people are also the members of the global family. The disabled, malnourished children, HIV/AIDS patients needing treatment, and the unemployed youth are also the part of global family like citizens from other countries. Our country lacks a lot in social protection. However, due to various reasons, we have been neglected by international organizations denying our rights. Our government has opened the door to international community. So, you all should welcome our move with constructive view and cooperate with us, I request. Our open-door policy is for the sake of all of our people. We hope you would give assistance as soon as you possibly can to our people, particularly the vulnerable who are in desperate need of social protection. Our government’s focus on economic performance is mainly intended to fulfil these needs.
We are obliged for our people. This is the concept of our government. Social security and social protection need a great deal of financial resources like social financing apart from the goodwill of the government. We are taking steps to draft and enact laws to make sure the unemployed have more job opportunities and the workers effective social and security protection. Social protection plans would not progress well without the solid support of legal regulation. We hope to acquire legal advices reflecting our country’s objective conditions from this conference.
I would like to suggest the formation of national high-level institution in order that social protection works progress report, further requirements, policy and strategy formulation, assessment of the effectiveness of works during project periods and policy review and so on can be monitored in long-term. Scholars from international community, representatives from international organizations, donors and representatives of donor organizations at home and abroad can join the association. Strategy adopted by the organization must be assessed and review of the practical implementation must be informed to the policymakers and the public.
I would like to urge the conference to map out strategies and work programmes for social protection of our country. We would much appreciate if you would kindly suggest programmes that can go in harmony with ongoing rural development and poverty reduction scheme of our government. With this I conclude my speech hoping you would bring strategic and practical plans for the sake of our people.
After that, Union Minister for Labour and for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Aung Kyi extended greetings. He said that while facing challenges of labours and social welfare policy changes, economic and social aims of the State will be implemented. New Social Security Bill has been submitted to the Hluttaw for creating more effective rights for the employees to enjoy retirement pension and for implementing the social security housing project. Moreover, the conference is being convened for adopting the new social protection programme so as to raise social protection for the people.
The noblest aim of the conference will contribute towards much to vocational tasks of the people and creation of opportunities for income, employment, education and health sectors. It will include care for children and disabled persons and response to suddenly-hit natural disasters. The discussions from the conference will benefit social protection tasks for the people.
Next, UNICEF resident representative Dr Ramesh Shresha extended greetings.
After the opening ceremony, President U Thein Sein, the Union ministers and guests posed for a documentary photo. The President and guests cordially greeted those present. Later, the agenda of the conference continued. The conference will continue on 26 June.