The E-Government Master Plan: Sowing the Seeds for ICT Investment?October 30, 2017
The ‘E-Government Master Plan’ (the “Plan”) is a recently launched initiative by the Myanmar Government which strives to provide a platform for the integration of Information and Communications Technology (“ICT”) into government policy, agencies and organizations. This ambitious plan envisages, among other things, to create a shared network infrastructure, Ministry specific applications and a Government Service Network, in order to streamline interagency operations at a governmental level.
The Plan also seeks to digitize citizen identity information, company and land record information as well as bringing about a comprehensive range of legislative and institutional reform to the current ICT framework.
In this client briefing note we will outline some of the developments in the Plan and what these developments mean for investors.
The current ICT framework largely consists of the outdated Computer Science Development Law, the Electronic Transactions Law and the Telecommunication Law. This framework, while incorporating elements of ICT generally, are not compatible with the system of e-Government envisaged in the Plan and will therefore need to be changed.
The legislative reforms to be implemented by the Plan are comprehensive and seek to bring about institutional and substantive reform. Such reforms, which may be of interest to investors, include: provisions on intellectual property rights, e-commerce and electronic payments and privacy and data protection. Legislation in these areas will strengthen the rights of investors over their brand as well as increase the efficiency of conducting business transactions in Myanmar.
In addition to ICT reform, the Plan sets out a comprehensive table of prioritized tasks which are split across a variety of Ministries including the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Electricity and Energy and the Ministry of Commerce. Of relevance to investors are prioritized projects in online banking, a land management acquisition system and establishment of an e-commerce platform.
These prioritized projects will be undertaken by the relevant Ministries in order to develop Ministry specific applications in the relevant areas. What this means for investors is that Ministries, across the whole spectrum of Government, will begin putting in place online platforms and portals which will make information gathering, storage and doing business generally, more user friendly and efficient.
The Plan also sets out several key policies including a policy on electronic services, which will create facilities for the online submission of forms as well as creation of online payment facilities, a policy on HR development and an e-Government Management policy which includes a procurement policy on inviting tenders for hardware, software and ICT services. This is anticipated to provide an array of opportunities for investors who are in the business of providing software consultation and services.
To make the Plan feasible in practice, an ICT Council (the “Council”) will be established to administer the objectives and numerous reforms brought about by the Plan. This Council will be an overseeing body and will act under the direct supervision of the President’s office.
The Council will be composed of three (3) branches, namely,
- The National e-Government Center,
- The National Cyber Security Center; and
- The National ICT Research and Human Resource Development Center.
Each of these institutions will be staffed by competent officials from the relevant Government Ministries.
The National e-Government Center will be responsible for the development of Human Resources within the civil service as well as having responsibility for ensuring shared infrastructure and common data services.
The National Cyber Security Center will be a body responsible for developing policy and working guidelines on information security as well as exercising a supervisory function over government information and network protection.
Finally, the National ICT Research and Human Resource Center is anticipated to be an administrative branch with responsibility for integrating ICT into research and human resources development. Moreover, this body will be charged with increasing education and training around ICT which is necessary for the long-term objectives of the Plan to be achieved.
This structure is subject to a mandatory structural revision after three (3) years, a progress review which will examine key components such as implementation of the relevant objectives of the Plan. What changes, if any, enacted after this three (3) year review, remains to be seen.
To conclude, this is an area with guaranteed growth and presents a set of opportunities to investors. The Plan is a welcomed initiative demonstrating the resolve of the Myanmar Government in creating an investment friendly environment as well as sowing the seeds for ICT infrastructure which will likely facilitate long term digital investment in the area.
However, it is unclear at this stage how the Plan will be financed for the long term. Moreover, it is unclear whether any budgetary cutbacks will be initiated to finance the Plan and what effect these cutbacks, if any, will have on other areas of investment and commerce.Share this: