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In September 2015, the Myanmar government for the first time in history set a minimum wage at 3,600 MMK ($3 at that time of exchange rate) a day, lowest in ASEAN but slightly higher than Bangladesh. A year and a half after implementation, robust discussions continue between unions, worker representatives, businesses, and the government about the impacts and possible changes in the minimum wage level. On November 4th, CESD was invited by the Ministry of Labor, Population, and Immigration to arbitrate a workshop between worker representatives and government and policy-making figures seeking updates from workers, open a policy dialogue, and support future changes to the minimum wage.
CESD, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), undertook research into the existing state of subnational public finances and intergovernmental relationships to help build knowledge on the current state of fiscal decentralization in Myanmar, and to promote dialogue on the challenges and opportunities faced by Myanmar’s Union and subnational governments with public financial management reform.
For decades, Myanmar’s economic system was characterized by economic isolation and central planning. Today, however, as Myanmar is in the middle of a far-reaching political and economic transition, it is leaving this past behind. For Myanmar’s enterprises, and Small and Medium Sizes Enterprises (SMEs) in particular, the opening of the country’s economy in general and the intensification of regional economic integration more specifically, most notably through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC), bring both opportunities and challenges.
Are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Myanmar participating in regional economic integration?
Recent research by CESD, based on a survey among garment and food processing companies, has built a greater understanding of how Myanmar’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) participate in regional economic integration. CESD presented findings from their research at a regional workshop in Indonesia in January 2016, organised by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and ISEAS –Yusof Ishak Institute, who had also funded CESD’s research on this topic.
A team of CESD senior researchers presented some of their recent research and publications at the Australian Myanmar Institute (AMI) “Myanmar and the sustainable development goals” conference, held at Yangon University, 10 – 12 July 2015.
The Government of Myanmar’s fiscal management objectives, outlined in the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms (2013), include plans for an increasing proportion of government spending on health and education, and a decline in spending on the military. The government has also recognized the need to reduce reliance on resource revenues and to prioritize tax policy and tax administration reform.
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.