Myanmar reforms aim to improve lives, modernize
By Min Zayar Oo ,ReutersNAYPYITAW, Myanmar -- Myanmar's government will unveil a slew of new reforms to donor countries and international organizations this weekend, aiming to consolidate achievements since the end of military rule in 2011 but also quickly improve the lives of its citizens.
January 20, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
In opening remarks to donors on Saturday, President Thein Sein said the government wanted “a modern, industrialized country” but also stressed the need to develop the agricultural sector and narrow development gaps between the regions.
He told the donors the government wanted their help to raise living standards and skills of its people.
“This will also help us undertake political reforms that are aimed at transforming the country into a modern, developed democracy,” he said.
A wide-ranging “Framework for Economic and Social Reforms” seen by Reuters set out broad initiatives to achieve those goals by 2030 plus more immediate priorities for the next three years.
Admitting Myanmar was “way behind neighboring countries,” it touches upon the liberalization of trade and investment, health and education, transparency and infrastructure.
Thein Sein, himself a former junta general, has already pushed through far-reaching reforms since taking office in March 2011 at the head of a quasi-civilian government.
He has introduced a market-oriented exchange rate, freed hundreds of political prisoners and agreed ceasefires with most of the ethnic rebel groups that have fought for decades for autonomy.
In his speech he said peace and stability went hand in hand with socio-economic development.
“We will start political dialogue with all 10 major ethnic armed groups that have concluded ceasefire agreements with the government in the near future,” he said.
He invited rebels in Kachin state who have not yet joined the process to take part in peace talks.
Late on Friday he issued a ceasefire order in Kachin state, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced in 20 months of fighting, although rebel leaders would not immediately commit to the truce, suspicious of the government's motives.