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In Myanmar, poverty prevalence was reduced by half from 48.2 percent in 2005 to 24.8 percent in 2017.[1] Combatting corruption, which has reduced leakages of the public purse, has also improved as indicated by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index where Myanmar climbed up 40 places in the last 5 years.[2]

One of the pioneering efforts to further reduce corruption in Myanmar are the recently established Corruption Prevention Units (CPUs) in 22 union-level ministries and organizations. The CPUs have the mandate to disclose and solve corruption problems within their ministries, and to minimize existing corruption risks to prevent future transgressions. How are CPUs achieving this?

On the one hand, unlike integrity unit models known from other countries, members of Myanmar’s CPUs are not seconded by Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), but all are civil servants of respective ministries. Furthermore, each CPU is free to develop its own terms of reference in accordance with the specific needs of its ministry. Lastly, also the primary line of reporting for each CPU is to their ministers, while the ACC receives copies of the reports.

On the other hand, however, CPUs are not left alone and receive guidance and support from the ACC and development partners to achieve their mission. For example, while minor infringements are to be solved by the concerned ministry based on civil service rules and regulations and the code of conduct, CPUs refer other corruption cases to the ACC to be handled under the Anti-Corruption law. In addition, UN partners support CPUs to apply corruption risk assessments in their ministries in order to minimize corruption risks in laws, regulations and procedures. Finally, CPUs are also encouraged to improve access to information for service recipients and to engage with the public and businesses, for example through feedback mechanisms. Overall, these arrangements strike a good balance between cooperation, collaboration and leadership which have resonated well within the Civil service at large.

Only established in 2019, Myanmar’s CPUs are already a promising example for a locally appropriate model for collaboration. This nurtures hopes that Myanmar will continue its walk towards reducing corruption and poverty in the years to come.

 

[1] See Myanmar Living Condition Survey 2017, Myanmar Central Statistical Organization, UNDP, World Bank.

[2] See Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International, 2012 (place 172) and 2018 (place 132).