Challenges remain despite ruling party’s big win, analysts report says

The resounding victory of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) is unlikely to change the country’s status quo as key challenges to its election promises remain.The peace process, constitutional amendments as well as sustainable economic development would continue to be challenging, maintaining the country’s short- and long-term political risk index at 57.1 and 48.6 out of 100, respectively.
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With Myanmar’s political environment poised to be “fairly similar” to the NLD’s first term in 2015, Fitch Solutions said in a report November 17 that its evaluation of the country’s political risk remains unchanged, as many of NLD’s pledges “hinge on cooperation from the Tatmadaw to act against its self-interest.”Official results announced by Myanmar’s election body have shown the NLD secured 396 seats in parliament in a landslide, surpassing its performance in 2015.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration made limited progress during its first term on the electoral pledges outlined in the party’s manifesto in 2015. These include the peace process and constitutional amendments.“We believe that this result was more of a rejection of any potential return to ‘pseudo-junta’ rule under the USDP leadership rather than an acknowledgement of any progress on the NLD’s key promises made during the 2015 elections,” Fitch Solutions said.The agency said the deep distrust between ethnic armed groups and the Tatmadaw would continue to make the peace process between them and the civilian authorities difficult to achieve.

The disenfranchisement of up to 73 percent of Rakhine State voters could drive stronger support for the local armed groups in the years to come, which would make the NLD government’s task of national reconciliation even more challenging, Fitch Solutions said.Amending the undemocratic clauses of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution has been another of NLD’s priorities. The Constitution reserved 25pc of seats for the military in the union, state and regional parliaments while guaranteeing its control of three government ministries: defence, home affairs and border affairs.

However, amending the Constitution is unlikely to happen with the military’s vested interest across its current control of the government as well as its own conglomerate which completely evades public oversight, the research agency said.
On the economic front, plenty of reforms have yet to be achieved, despite the country’s economic growth being one of the highest in the region and the world since the end of the military’s dictatorship.

“Even though the NLD’s goal of sustainable development appears to be the more achievable task of the three, this will require significant reforms to the economy which will take many years to implement,” the report said.Even with some economic progress, Myanmar still falls behind many regional and international economies in terms of infrastructure development, public finance, legislations and red tapes, poverty reduction,among others.

Myanmar has climbed the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index this year.In terms of foreign direct investment, Myanmar’s insufficient infrastructure such as electricity and roads has been a major caveat in attracting more FDIs, while education reform to improve the country’s level of human capital is another crucial point for the country to attract higher-value FDI as opposed to garment manufacturing, Fitch Solutions said.

Public spending continues to be imperilled by a weak fiscal revenue collection framework, as Myanmar’s tax reform awaits and one of the largest informal economies in the world has yet to be formalised. According to the government’s 2017 survey, the country’s informal employment took up over 80pc of the country’s population.“Formalising the large informal sector will be important to expanding the tax base, although we do not expect this to be complete over the NLD’s next term,” Fitch Solutions said.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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