Township Committee Representatives Champion One Stop Shop EstablishmentJul 3, 2015
[Ha Noi, Viet Nam – July 3] Six representatives from township development support and municipal affairs committees currently part of a Myanmar delegation to explore one stop shops in Mongolia and Viet Nam say they can play a key role to support the set-up of similar structures in Myanmar.
The representatives are from the township committees recently awarded with H.E. President Thein Sein prize for best performance. They believe they can advocate for one stop shops with their local administration officials and lobby for these to be implemented in their localities, as well as play a key role in raising the awareness of people living in their areas on the benefits of one stop shops and once implemented, monitor how these operate.
Township Development Support Committees and Township Municipal Affairs Committees play a key role in local development. They were created by a Presidential Notification in February 2013 and constitute an important part of Myanmar’s democratic reforms, emphasizing a bottom up and participatory approach. In the absence of general elections at township level, the committees are an important link between the people and the Government. Unfortunately these committees are rather unknown among the people. The nationwide local governance mapping conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the General Administration Department which took stock of local governance and how people in Myanmar accessed public services, revealed that out of the over 6000 people interviewed, only 4% had knowledge of the township development committees.
The group that received the President’s award are an exception and are well known in their communities. The committee representatives – Tin Win (Pakoku), La Hakri Zaw Bauk (Myitkyina), Mi Htoi Zaw Latt (Myitkyina), Hla Han (Monywa), Maung Maung (Monywa) and Ye Htut (Pakoku) - shared the reason behind their success.
“Before implementing development projects, such as the construction of roads or other infrastructure projects, starts the members of our Township Development Support Committee visits the area of the proposed intervention, together with the members of the township or ward administration. We speak to the Village Tract Development Support Committees, the people living in the area, we listen to them and respond to their questions. Only when their concerns have been taken on board, and adequate explanations have been provided, the development project starts. This way, there is coordination and cooperation between the public and government officials,” said U Tin Win, Chairperson of the Township Municipal Affairs Committee in Pakoku, Magway Region.
One Stop Shops for Greater Efficiency
The Myanmar Government has announced the setup of 72-74 offices combining a number of departments in one building with a one stop shop located in the ground floor during 2015.
The committee representatives agreed that one stop shops would be beneficial and emphasized that a broad consultation is important before the one stop shops are set-up.
“In Mongolia as in Vietnam, we saw that one stop shops provided different services depending on their location. Similarly, in Myanmar, there needs to be public consultation in local areas to determine which services are most sought after by people.
The one stop shops can then be set up to address the specific needs of a certain locality,” said U Maung Maung, Chairperson of the Township Development Support Committee in Monywa, Sagaing Region.
The Chairperson of the Township Municipal Affairs Committee in Myitkyina, U Mi Htoi Zaw Latt, said that due to the large number of motor cycles in Kachin State, Government had brought all the services related to registering a motor bike under one roof in each and every township, cutting the time spent by people seeking to register motor bikes.
“The needs in each state and region will be different. The One Stop Shops must provide the most requested services in our local areas in addition to a basic set of services,” he said.
The township committee members emphasized that the success of one stop shops will depend largely on clear guidelines on how these should operate as well as appropriate training and remuneration for staff. “One stop shops will be great and will save people so much time and money in going from different offices to get official work done. However, one stop shops will only work if government selects the right staff, provides the right training and guidelines and salaries.” said U Hla Han, Chairperson of Township Development Support Committee in Monywa, Sagaing Region.
“In order for one stop shops to function efficiently, we need to change the mindsets of civil servants and also that of township development as well as municipal affairs committee members,” Ye Htut, Chairperson of the Township Development Support Committee in Pakoku, Magway Region.
The Secretary of the Township Development Support Committee in Myitkyina, La Hkri Zaw Bawk said that committee members could have a monitoring role and with the help of the media ensure that one stop shops function the way they are supposed to.
UNDP supported the study visit to Mongolia and Vietnam to facilitate learning on how one stop shops were set up, how they function and the challenges they face.
“It is great that government requested UNDP to also invite representatives from the public as those committee members are, to participate in the study tour together with government, to learn more about one stop shops. It shows that government considers the opinions of its people as an important contribution before implementing reforms that have impact in their communities. This would not have been possible even a year ago,” said Anki Dellnas, UNDP Local Development and Governance Specialist.
The Myanmar delegation of 31 officials is led by U Tin Myint, Deputy Director General of General Administration Department. He is accompanied by the Deputy Director General U Bharat Singh from President’s Office (no 6), Deputy Director General U Than Naing Tun, Ministry of Immigration and Population and a wide range of senior civil servants from the General Administration Department; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation; Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Information and Technology; as well as state/region government representatives from Ayeyarwady, Bago, Chin, Shan, Kayah, Kayin, Kachin, Magway, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Mon, Sagaing, Tanintharyi and Yangon. Also part of the delegation are the six township development committee members.
The study visit, complete with site visits to urban, rural and remote one stop shops and meetings with governments at different levels and implementing agencies, concluded today.
More information on the Township level committees and their role in local development can be found in the report: Mapping the Status of Local Governance in Myanmar: Background and Methodology
UNDP Myanmar Communications Specialist