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State and region governments in Myanmar

Working paper

Written by Hamish Nixon

Working paper

Subnational governance institutions and central-­local relations are critical to the future of Myanmar, and they are undergoing significant change.

This report aims to inform policy-makers, political actors, donors, and other stakeholders about the new state and region structures created under the 2008 Constitution, and their relationship with broader governance, peace and decentralization processes.

These new subnational governments have started to open political space, but they face significant limitations. While the presence of partially-­elected bodies at this level is a major reform, these 'hluttaws' face capacity constraints. The executive at state and region level is still dominated by a top-­down appointment process, and ministers have little control over the administrative apparatus, limiting the effectiveness of the new governments.

State and region budgets are as yet small, and prepared in a way that reinforces central influence. Further reforms are needed to align the new political structures with administrative and fiscal arrangements, broaden the scope of decentralization to more significant areas, and link it with wider democratization, peace and public administration reform processes.

Hamish Nixon, Cindy Joelene, Kyi Pyar Chit Saw, Thet Aung Lynn and Matthew Arnold