Peter Batchelor | Professional Development Programme on Improving the Machinery of Government and Policy Making for Better Service DeliveryFeb 21, 2018
Excellency Dr. Win Thein, Chairman of the UCSB, Senior Officials, International Experts, development partners, Distinguished participants.
It’s a pleasure to join all of you this morning to launch the Professional Development Programme on Machinery of Government (MoG). Through this initiative, UNDP hopes to contribute – in a very modest manner – to supporting the Government of Myanmar in its drive to improve the effectiveness of public institutions and the functioning of the public sector.
Let me acknowledge the support of our donor partners – Australia, Finland, Sweden and the UK and thank them for their very generous support to our work on public administration reform.
Machinery of Government is the basis of good governance and can be very important in contexts like Myanmar where the whole State and administration is in a state of change and reform.
Based on international good practice, it is recognized that improving and strengthening the way that key democratic institutions work together to deliver on their mandate can support democratization and development.
Regulating and improving the interaction between the three branches of government, and within the various levels of government – from Union to Township levels in the case of Myanmar – and ensuring a strong coordination within government institutions and between the government and civil society and the private sector is a pre-requisite of an effective Machinery of Government that allows for public policies to be developed for the good of all people.
In Myanmar’s democratic transition, Machinery of Government gains an even bigger importance. Improving the way the public sector functions will allow the people of Myanmar to benefit from the resources and richness of your country even more effectively, for more sustainable and inclusive development.
An effective Machinery of Government implies a transparent, accountable, and fully inclusive administration that operates for the benefit of all people. This is the reason why we at the UN strongly link Machinery of Government with peace, stability and development.
An effective MoG will ensure the strengthening of public institutions. It helps countries reduce corruption and support inclusive participation to ensure that no one is left behind.
This is the spirit of SDG 16, to which the Government of Myanmar has fully subscribed. This goal promotes peace, the resolution of conflicts, the rule of law and access to justice, citizen security and human rights.
One of the key core government functions that underpins a good and effective Machinery of Government (MoG) is Executive Coordination at the Center.
The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed recently noted that “When the center of government functions effectively, collective expertise from across the public sector can be mobilized and brought to bear on the most pressing decisions confronting a country”.
This comment is not about more centrality in decision making processes. Rather it is about greater effectiveness and the adoption of mechanisms that can link and mobilize capacity from across the administration to respond to the most pressing issues the Government and the country is facing.
Strengthening and investing in executive coordination is about moving from a situation where decision making is largely ad-hoc and based upon personal relationships and opaque processes towards one in which the decision-making process is more rules based, structured, routinized and predictable. This is exactly what the Government of Myanmar and all of you here present are trying to achieve!
The key principles that guide executive coordination are: transparency, accountability, predictability, alignment with constitutional and legal frameworks and finally participation. Participation means where all levels of government partake in the development of public policies.
Participation also highlights the importance of consultations beyond the Cabinet and beyond the public sector too. Civil society and the private sector can also play a key role in ensuring that public policy addresses the key challenges that non-governmental actors face. Executive coordination is expected to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to policy development in every sector.
Allow me to illustrate by using an example from Myanmar today. The Government of Myanmar is currently finalizing, as all of you know, the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP). The plan sets out the country’s key development priorities. Let’s select for this exercise one of the essential services that the state is expected to provide- the example of health.
In the plan, one of the strategies focuses on ‘Strengthening the health system, especially towards delivery of universal health care’. While focused on the health sector, we all can appreciate that this strategic objective cannot be achieved by the Ministry of Health and Sports alone. It will require a strong leadership from the center of government, from the executive, that will ensure that the health sector is supported by the other sectors that will have an impact on the success of this policy.
Developing a policy for health services should be done collaboratively, taking into account the inputs of all stakeholders, including the private sector and the general public. [This was done already in the case of Myanmar by the Ministry when developing the National Health Plan.]
During implementation, you would agree with me that it is important to have the most effective coordination at the center of government to ensure that all sectors are coordinated and that the machinery of government is geared towards the achievements of those goals and targets.
It is important to have mechanisms of coordination and monitoring and evaluation that can ensure that sectors like education, construction, transportation, etc. are all involved in the delivery of the plan.
Education will need to ensure that the appropriate number of medical doctors, and nurses are trained and ready to access the job market, and construction and transportation will need to set targets for the construction of new hospitals and health facilities, taking into account the complementarity with the private sector, ensuring easy access to the health facilities especially in rural areas.
In short, it is impossible to implement any strategic objective without effective coordination from the center and political support from the highest levels of government.
It is therefore important to support core government functions like Executive Coordination to allow the machinery of government to function more effectively.
I am pleased to inform you that UNDP Myanmar has already devised a new Project titled ‘Support to Effective and Responsive Institutions’ (SERIP), which will work jointly with the government of Myanmar not only at Union level, but also in States and Regions to strengthen Core Government functions through improved, more effective, more transparent and accountable work processes. This will allow the overall Machinery of Government to perform better.
I do hope that this training will be a first step for us to work more closely with your various ministries in supporting you to achieve a more effective public administration.
Finally let me thank Dr. Win Thein and all our UCSB colleagues for organizing this important programme.
We hope it will contribute to the Government’s vision to deliver more effective and efficient public services for all the people of Myanmar.