In March 2016, the new government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in Myanmar under the leadership of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw. The NLD controls a majority of both upper and lower house parliamentary seats in the country’s first democratically elected, civilian-led government since 1962. The new direction for the country was set out in the 2015 Election Manifesto, which stated that it will “strive for the establishment of a genuine federal democratic union based on the principles of freedom, equal rights and self-determination”.
Election manifestos indicate the objectives a government wishes to accomplish, but the ways to achieve them are often hard and complicated, especially in the context of a constitution that gives veto power to non-elected representatives from the Tamadaw. The people may easily become disappointed unless they see real progress.
However, the challenge is not only to move from military dictatorship to a genuine federal democratic union, but also to move from a war economy to a genuine market economy. The two transitions are linked, but economic progress is crucial if Myanmar is to become a modern democracy.
The purpose of this study is to give an overview of the public finance issues involved, so that policy makers from all sides can make informed choices that would help to accomplish the vision for a modern Myanmar.