Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Government launches Reform Plan for Civil Service

July 10, 2017
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi launched the four-year Civil Service Reform Strategic Action Plan yesterday at an event in Nay Pyi Taw.

The Plan sets out a vision for change over 2017-2020. It is a blue print for extensive reforms which will ensure that the civil service is more ethical, better reflects the diversity of the country, and is effectively able to help address the complex challenges of peace, national reconciliation, corruption, and development that confront Myanmar.

The Union Government was committed to building the capacity of Myanmar’s civil servants, and equipping them with the skills and expertise in a few years, said State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the launch of the Civil Service Reform (CSR) Strategic Action Plan for Myanmar in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

“We must tackle in just a few years the issues that other countries have addressed gradually over many decades,” she said in her opening speech at the launch of the Civil Service Reform Strategic Action Plan. She also encouraged all ministers and government bodies to place priority on developing the skills and capabilities of the staff.

The Strategic Action Plan also notes the importance of ‘merit-based and performance-driven culture and systems’.

Promotions must be determined through objective and transparent criteria.

The State Counsellor also called for avoiding even the perception of favouritism or nepotism, adding that promotion must be determined through objective and transparent criteria.

“ There should be no place for discrimination in any form,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“It is also important that the civil service reflect the diversity of our country. No boy or girl at high school today should feel excluded from a future civil service career on the grounds of their birthplace, ethnicity, religion, wealth or gender. The civil service must develop recruitment systems that can attract and retain the brightest and best, whatever their background,” she said.

In her speech, the State Counsellor also highlighted the corruption as one of the challenges that the government must overcome on the path to civil service reform.

“Corruption has a corrosive effect on trust and on good governance, and on the reputation of the civil service and its staff. Moreover, corruption places the interests of the few above the interests of the many, and thus undermines the central principle of democracy: government on behalf of the people,” she said.

The Strategic Action Plan sets out a number of initiatives in this regard: strengthening the Civil Service Code of Conduct; improving training on ethics and anti-corruption; making grievance and whistle blowing mechanisms more effective; enforcing asset disclosure requirements for senior positions; and introducing new technology into administrative processes to minimize opportunities for bribes.

“Tackling corruption will contribute to a wider objective of the Strategic Action Plan: the development of greater trust between civil servants and the communities that they serve,” said the State Counsellor.

“Civil service reform is always a complex undertaking- but especially so in a country such as ours, where we seek to change not only the existing structures and processes, but also to reform a deep-seated institutional culture, while at the same time preparing for the opportunities and challenges of a federal future,” she added.

Democracy places upon civil servants new and demanding responsibilities. No longer are civil servants simply expected to enact orders from above. Under a democratic government, civil servants are expected to take initiative, to develop and submit policy options, to propose solutions to difficult problems.

In my time in the Hluttaw, and now in the Executive, I have been privileged to get to know dedicated civil servants from all ranks and backgrounds, from cleaners and gardeners to those who have reached the highest rungs of their profession. So, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the civil servants who, today, are working across our nation, often in challenging circumstance, not for recognition or personal gain or glory, but simply to be of service to the public.

No Immediate solutions for low salaries

“We are acutely aware that many civil servants’ salaries remain low, particularly in comparison to counterparts in other sectors. On this issue, I will be frank: there are no immediate solutions. The raising of salaries must be an incremental process, carried out responsibly and sustainably, in accordance with the resources available under the national budget,” said the State Counsellor. While salary increases may not take place with the immediacy that our civil servant may wish for, there are other ways in which the government can and will support them.

As a beginning, we will be upgrading existing housing facilities and also constructing new homes for retired civil servants that they may live in security and dignity after long years of service to the nation, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The development of the Plan has been led by the Union Civil Service Board (UCSB) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is the result of extensive consultations held over the past year.

Dr. Win Thein, Chairman of the Union Civil Service Board said, “More than one thousand people from Union Government, Parliament, States and Regions, civil society and development partners, helped develop this Plan, ensuring that it reflects what really matters for civil service reforms in Myanmar.”

“With this plan, Myanmar has the opportunity to make its civil service more inclusive and representative. A more inclusive civil service which is ethical, meritocratic and builds on the rich diversity of the country will allow civil servants to deliver better services and development outcomes for all people in Myanmar” said UNDP Country Director Peter Batchelor.

The Civil Service Reform Strategic Action Plan will involve changes to civil service management across all government institutions, and its implementation will be led by the UCSB, and co-chaired by the General Administration Department and Anti-Corruption Commission. It includes a strong focus on anti-corruption and encouraging ethical practices in the civil service. Proposed measures include setting codes of conduct to change civil service values and mindsets, more training, and better ways for civil servants and ordinary people to report corruption.

The Plan was launched at the start of a three-day Knowledge Forum on Public Service Motivation, held in Nay Pyi Taw and attended by 400 people. The Forum was co-organized by UCSB and UNDP.

Following the opening ceremony, the event continued with the attendance of Vice President U Myint Swe.

Also present at the ceremony were Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw U Win Myint, Speaker of Amyotha Hluttaw Mahn Win Khaing Than, Chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar U Myo Nyunt, Chairman of the Union Election Commission U Hla Thein, Union ministers, Union Attorney-General, Union Auditor-General, Chairman of the Union Civil Service Board, Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Chairman of the Myanmar Human Rights Commission, chief ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, diplomats and personnel from UN agencies and INGOs.

(Full Speech of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is available at www. globalnewlightofmyanmar.com)

Ref; The Global New Light of Myanmar

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