A new website based in Naypyitaw is shedding new light and crucial information on aid to the Southeast Asian nation.
Since Myanmar initiated its ambitious reform process in early 2011, a number of major announcements have been made that indicate a gradual shift in attitudes towards public sector transparency.
These changing attitudes have encouraged many civil servants that things really may be changing for the better.
In addition to aid transparency in Myanmar, the corruption index has improved. Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index scored Myanmar at 156 out of 177, placing the country between Cambodia and Zimbabwe. This marks a 22-point rise from 2012, where Myanmar scored 172 of 176.
To welcome these developments in aid and public sector transparency, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development has launched a new aid information management portal, Mohinga.
The site presents data on almost 1,500 aid activities in Myanmar, a valuable source of information for researchers and the general public. It is one of the more tangible examples of Myanmar translating policy talk into concrete action.
Mohinga houses a rich source of information. In its current form, data on the portal is entered manually by aid donors working in Myanmar. This model seeks to provide donors the capacity to import their data directly from the International Aid Transparency Initiative data store. In this way, Mohinga combines international open aid data with local data.
While data on Japanese and European assistance features on the site, the same can’t be said for other regional partners. For example, data on Chinese assistance appears less comprehensive. Of course, this is hardly unique to Myanmar. Difficulties in tracking Chinese development assistance is part of that nation’s aid business.
No doubt, placing more information on the use of the country’s domestic resources into the public domain is important for Myanmar to develop. This is precisely what Mohinga has done.
Those interested can visit the site at mohinga.info.
Olivia Cable is a lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Yangon University, and a research assistant in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University.