Here is the full text of his speech at the forum:
Excellencies, distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning! It is a great honor for me to participate in this 2021 Global Rural Development Forum. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and its International Poverty Reduction Center for giving opportunity to Myanmar to share our experiences and to explore the further cooperation. I would also like to extend heartfelt greeting to our colleagues and all the distinguished delegates participating in this vigorous event.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Poverty eradication is highlighted as our priority shared goals at both global and regional agendas in order to position our future in the world of sustainable development. For developing countries like Myanmar, poverty eradication is clearly the challenging goal to be achieved and formidable task to be accomplished. Myanmar is home for about 54 million people. The majority, about 70 percent of the people lives in rural areas and they rely mostly on agriculture and its related business for their livelihood. They lead a simple and peaceful life, but their quality of life is not very high and about one-third of rural population suffers poverty. Successive governments of Myanmar have been making their utmost efforts to achieve its goal on rural development and poverty reduction.
The eight-point poverty alleviation scheme brought tangible socio-economic improvement of poor and vulnerable. In the space of one and half decades starting from 2005, Myanmar managed to nearly halve the number of people living in poverty from 48.2 % to 24.8 %. However, several states and regions are still lagging behind, and need more balanced development.
Other external challenges like natural disasters and global pandemic are reversing our hard-won development gains and threatening to put us at the risk of underdevelopment. Ongoing Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and economic downturn brought the disruptions in country development. Myanmar’s poverty rate is simulated to increase from 24.8% to 27% in this year 2021. Furthermore, current third wave of Covid-19 is once again posing an immediate threat to lives, livelihoods, and the economy. The loss of jobs and income and heightened health and food security risks are compounding the welfare challenges faced by the poorest and most vulnerable, including those that were already hit hardest by the pandemic last year. Thus, the share of Myanmar’s population living in poverty is likely to increase sharply by the beginning of 2022.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Economic growth by itself does not reduce poverty. Experience of many developing countries underscores the important role of targeted programs in poverty alleviation and in making economic growth more inclusive. Poverty in Myanmar is highly associated with living in rural areas, low education, and employment in agriculture. Diversifying sources of income beyond the agricultural sector tends to help households move out of poverty. Targeted interventions are needed to promote more inclusive growth and to ensure that all people can benefit from the economic progress Myanmar is experiencing. Thus, we are focusing on narrowing the development gap between rural and urban areas and among States and Regions and national development strategy assigns high priority to twin objective of equitable economic growth and accelerated poverty reduction.
Directly addressing the poverty situation and the need of for improved human development, Myanmar places emphasis on implementation of people-centred development through community-driven, participatory approaches. Under the development governance framework, people are core of development process while thegovernment’s technical departments and private sector assumes a critical role as engine of growth as well as provider of a range of social and technical services. Community Driven Development Project and Village Revolving Fund Project invoke and demonstrate the best example of sustainable rural development measures in Myanmar.
Recognizing the presence of our vulnerability amidst poverty issues and Covid-19 pandemic, Myanmar has also set its determination and commitment to ending poverty and mitigating its socio-economic impacts of Covid-19. The new government is always concerned about its fellow poor and vulnerable citizens, taking rural development and poverty reduction as an important agenda of national governance. The new government redouble its efforts and contribute more to development by adopting Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan - MERRP which is aimed at rebuilding the country’s economy over the longer term and includes support for agriculture, infrastructure that boosts connectivity, as well as improving human capital and promoting innovation.
Myanmar has also embarked on a new journey to fulfill the rural development tasks by establishing Ministry of Cooperatives and Rural Development. Since then, the ministry and agencies concerned are making its upmost efforts in the development of policy, strategies, quick-win plans and implementation of short-term and medium-term development measures. Primarily attention is paid on rural infrastructure development, livelihoods and income improvement, small and medium enterprise development, and cooperative sector development, particularly in agriculture and livestock sector-based cooperative development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While making the utmost efforts to achieve sustainable development in respective countries, sharing and utilization of good practices and lessons-learnt among the countries can further speed up the efforts to achieve the set national goals and targets.In this connection, I would like to share some of our thoughts for addressing rural development and combating poverty.
Faced with the effects of climate change and natural disaster, building community resiliency should be considered as a long-term strategic priority from the perspective of sustainable growth. Nowadays, our rural communities face numerous challenges such as loss of critical infrastructure and services, the simultaneous emergence of new livelihood opportunities and the loss of existing livelihoods. Resilience measures may cover community infrastructure development, livelihood improvement, urban development, forestry and environmental conservation, financial inclusion and social protection. Myanmar experiences show that successful implementation of resilience-building measures requires a whole-of-government approach, as well as leveraging partnerships with civil society organizations, the private sector, and development partners.
In addition, the role of rural women and youth can also be seen as the driving force of sustainable development. Empowerment through participatory, demand-driven and capacity building activities fosters enabling environment for their decision-making and leadership. Women are ensured membership in village development committees, their high participation in project meetings, decision-making activities and their improved access to benefit from livelihood-related skill trainings. Our experiences show that women taking on leadership positions can promote the participation of other women due to their “role-model” effect. Achieving greater equality in representation in leadership positions can also increase the likelihood that all citizens will be able to contribute to transparency and accountability through public discussions.
Another key area we should touch upon is economic empowerment of the rural youths. Youth-specific targeted investments, and interventions are crucially needed for producing skilled-labor force and entrepreneurial skills for rural youths. Private sector engagement in youth empowerment needs to be strengthened for providing rural youthswith access to finance and offering well-paid job opportunities. It is also very important to ensure inclusion of youths and their leadership in planning strategies and programs of community development by creating platforms of sharing information among rural youths for voicing out their priority and concerns.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are very pleased to learn that China, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, has completely eliminated absolute poverty and achieved the global poverty eradication goal on 10 years ahead of schedule. Myanmar congratulate such achievement attained by the strong leadership and determination of Chinese Government. China’s path of poverty eradication is not only a good way to eliminate poverty at home, but also an important contribution to other countries. Thus, it is really inspiring for us to learn their best practices and apply in our national poverty reduction programs, depending our context.
In conclusion, our shared goal of poverty eradication, especially in the time of Covid-19 pandemic becomes more important than ever to save lives and properties, to protect investment and to ensure the sustainability of development gains. In addition, genuine partnership among global and regional countries is crucial for the success of our long-term achievement in poverty eradication and sustainable rural development. Therefore, we are assured that Myanmar will further cooperate closely with the Peoples’ Republic of China, Global and Regional partner countries for achieving sustainable rural development and poverty eradication.