National Economic Coordination Committee, Myanmar and Civil Service College, Singapore
Providing leaders with the capabilities to review and transform selected key processes into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to promote a pro-business environment and good governance.
“With SOPs in place, we can deliver better services to the public and attract more foreign investment. Instead of being afraid of change, we can learn to love change.”
At 676,575 km², Myanmar is over 900 times the size of Singapore.
And with a population comprising over 100 ethnic groups, the second largest country in Southeast Asia is making a concerted effort at development.
“We face a lot of difficulties such as limited resources and weak cross-agency coordination,” said Daw Saw Thet Su Win, who works in the Myanmar government as a deputy director at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations.
Daw Saw was one of 120 government officers from Myanmar who attended a public administration programme in Singapore, which aimed to equip them with the capabilities to implement SOPs in their organisations.
By advocating good governance and a pro-business environment, these SOPs will support the roll-out of the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP), which outlines the country’s roadmap for economic growth. For Daw Saw, the three-month programme was best summed up by a simple exercise.
“During a workshop, the trainer made us draw a picture without any instructions. Everyone drew completely different things. Then, he gave us a guideline — draw a circle. And everyone’s drawings were the same. It showed us how important it is to have guidelines and SOPs.”
Workshops aside, the programme also comprised a study visit to Singapore to understand Singapore’s whole-of-government approach in the public sector, as well as a leadership symposium for economic leaders tasked with implementing the MSDP.
Upon completing the programme, Daw Saw returned to Myanmar and kick-started efforts to streamline processes at DICA by organising a seminar for over 60 Myanmar government officers.
“Although the DICA head office already announced its intention to introduce SOPs in 2017, it was difficult to get things off the ground due to state and regional bureaucracies. But after my seminar, we started creating SOPs in a short time.”
In less than a year, all 15 state and regional DICA branch offices were compliant with a standard set of SOPs. This successful adoption of SOPs has been widely reflected across various government bodies in Myanmar.
Daw Thanda Khin, director of the National Economic Coordination Committee Secretariat Office, said: “We successfully conducted symposiums and SOP workshops in Myanmar which were very effective and applicable to the relevant ministries.”
“Senior government officers learnt how to streamline their processes to achieve cost effectiveness and develop new ideas to create operational SOPs.”
With these strengthened institutional capabilities now in place, Daw Saw is optimistic that Myanmar is well positioned to take major strides in its MSDP efforts.