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Report: Making public finance work for children in Myanmar

CESD, in collaboration with UNICEF, has taken advantage of increased transparency of Myanmar’s national budget, developing an analysis of government budgets over four fiscal years, from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

The budget analysis focuses on expenditure related to the social sector, and the impact that changes in expenditure have on children. It identifies and highlights expenditure trends, budget allocations and growth rates. The research also assesses the overall impact of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) on the national budget and examines the allocation of funds to Myanmar’s seven states and seven regions (refer to CESD’s paper, State and Region Governments, September 2013, for an overview of the structure of government in Myanmar).

This is the first time in Myanmar that a single database containing four years of government expenditures and revenues has been created and analysed.

The budget analysis, contained in the report “Making Public Finance Work for Children”, was presented to H.E. Dr Lin Aung, Deputy Union Minister for Finance on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar, said “The national budget is one of the most powerful instruments in achieving society’s goals and promoting child rights. It represents society’s preferences and priorities. It is key to determine the maximum extent of Myanmar’s available resources that can be mobilized to help children meet their rights to health, education, social protection, nutrition and access opportunities to grow and develop to their full potential.”

The report states, “Whilst Myanmar has seen an increase in social sector spending in the last four fiscal years, health, education and social welfare combined still receive far below the levels of funding provided to defence.  While increases in health and education expenditure have been witnessed, the proportion spent on social welfare has decreased”.

Key findings from this report include:

  • The government has made commitments to reduce Myanmar’s fiscal deficit, with projections currently suggesting it will decline to 5 per cent of GDP by 2014-15 (down from 9 per cent in 2012- 13).
  • State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) make significant contributions to government revenue and expenditure. Although their net contribution to the fiscal balance varies, many are increasingly being exposed to market forces, which is expected to improve their overall impact on the fiscal balance.
  • Social sector spending (health, education and social welfare) has increased since 2011-12, averaging between 5-9 per cent of total expenditure, compared to defence which still absorbed 13-15 per cent of total expenditure over the same period. Despite this, the proportion of expenditure allocated to defence has declined since 2011-12.
  • Budget allocations for education rose from just under 4 per cent of the budget in 2011-12 and is projected to reach nearly 6 per cent in 2014-15.
  • Expenditure on health tripled, from 1 per cent in 2011-12 to 3 per cent of the budget in 2012-13.
  • Allocations for social welfare have declined from under 0.2 per cent of expenditure in 2011- 12 to 0.1 per cent in 2014-15. Despite this, social welfare expenditure in absolute terms is at approximately the same level in 2014-15 as it was in 2011-12.

Concluding recommendations are as follows:

  • The development of an effective monitoring and evaluation system to assist a move towards an outcome based budget management framework.
  • A sustained expenditure focus on the social sector to improve socio-economic indicators in Myanmar.
  • Consideration of the possibility of using increased revenues to direct resources towards efficient and equitable delivery of goods and services, especially those that are critical for children.
  • Allocations and transfers to state and regions to be based on need, linked to development indicators and/or be formula based.
  • Research be conducted to ascertain whether efficiency gains can be achieved through the consolidation of some ministries, so as to minimise and avoid process duplication, and leverage economies of scale in achieving common development outcomes.
  • More analytical information is made publicly available to allow for deeper analysis of Myanmar’s fiscal position, in response to the Union Parliament’s request, and to inform parliamentary debate on sustaining investments in children.
  • Myanmar’s budgetary classification is made consistent with the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) Standard and Government Finance Statistics (GFS) standards, in recognition of the crucial role of fiscal policy to economic stability and growth.
  • The budget should, where possible, reflect local needs and should come from a local or ‘bottomup’ planning process in order to put children at the centre of the budget process.

Publication name: Making public finance work for children in Myanmar

Author(s): Dr Zaw Oo, Dr. Aniruddha Bonnerjee, Phoo Pwint Phyu, Giles Dickenson-Jones and Paul Minoletti

Supported by: UNICEF Myanmar

Publication date: November 2014

Language(s): Myanmar and English

Download the report from the following link(s):

The reports are also available from the UNICEF Myanmar website, www.unicef.org/myanmar/resources.html.

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