Government officials in Myanmar trained on evaluation of investment projects
Economic growth, driven by investments in key natural sectors, is a major priority for the Government of Myanmar. Investments are seen as promising greater employment opportunities and improved well-being of local citizens. With countries around the world showing keen interest in Myanmar, public officials are gaining more knowledge, using more tools and building awareness to negotiate and manage the large volume of new investments that the country is receiving.
In March 2015, 11 government staff from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development) and two staff from Environment Conservation Department (Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry) participated in training sessions focused on techniques for evaluating investment and public sector projects and how to incorporate environmental and social considerations within these projects.
The training, organised by UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative in partnership with the Australian Institute for Business and Economics, was carried out by Dr. Jackie Robinson, Senior Lecture in Environmental and Ecological Economics and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Queensland. Over two weeks, participants were trained in evaluation techniques such as cost-benefit analysis and its variants, such as cost effectiveness and cost utility analysis, and multi-criteria analysis, and understanding which technique is most appropriate for a project evaluation, especially when there are foreseeable environmental or social impacts that the proposed project will have.
The training also explored the key role of a project analyst, and how best to present information to answer key questions that decision-makers of projects may have in mind.
Participants found the training to be practical, in particular, the use of multi-criteria analysis to include the points of view of multiple groups of stakeholders. Myanmar-based examples provided insight into intangible values which can be associated with environmental or social benefits. To explain the aesthetic value of a clean river, Dr. Robinson used the example of Myanmar’s famous landmark, Shwedagon Pagoda, which has immense spiritual, cultural and historical significance.
One participant said: “I never thought of how we could measure the aesthetic value of our Shwedagon Pagoda before.” Building on the training, Dr. Robinson will be working one on one with a Myanmar consultant to develop a curriculum on this subject that the government can use in future, to continue their knowledge and capacity building in this area.