SMART Myanmar is a 2.8 million euros project funded by the EU’s SWITCH Asia programme with the aim to advance social and environmental improvements in Myanmar’s garment industry. One component of the project foresees to assess purchasing practices of garments & textiles by public institutions in Myanmar and to initiate dialogue between public and private sector representatives to discuss the current public procurement set-up and future adaptations needed to conduct public procurement in a more sustainable way. Sustainable public procurement (SPP) has many environmental, social and economic benefits and can be a powerful approach towards ensuring sustainable growth within a country.
SMART’s activities in 2016 on SPP in Myanmar
Since March 2016, SMART’s project staff, with the support of the procurement expert from Made-by (Netherlands organization and one of the implementing partners of SMART) have been meeting relevant ministries and the responsible personnel to assess procurement practices and policies, with emphasis on sustainability criteria. No sustainability criteria were found in the current public procurement procedures and practices, but a strong interest has been observed. What is needed is strong policy guidance from the government and technical support, referring to adequate training of the procurement personnel. Currently, the Ministry of Planning and Finance is drafting a procurement law with the help of the World Bank. Once this law is promulgated it will be easier for the government to adopt and apply sustainability criteria.
On the 27th of September, 2016 SMART Myanmar organized an inter-ministerial dialogue in Nay Pyi Taw, hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. 35 representatives from 15 ministries attended. The purpose of the dialogue was to raise awareness on best practices and benefits of SPP, to discuss the current status of procurement procedures at the ministries and to exchange views on practical challenges and potential solutions.
A second public-private dialogue was organized in Yangon in November to bring together company representatives from the garment industry and representatives from selected ministries. The private sector representatives included several MGMA members, in particular two that have produced garments for public sector tenders. The objective of this public-private dialogue was to exchange perspectives and build-up knowledge on SPP for manufacturers and public procurers.
Both of these events were also undertaken to inform SMART in developing practical recommendations for the Myanmar government on integrating sustainability criteria into public procurement procedures in future.
These events were managed by Dr. Christina Raab, Principal Consultant from Made-By and supported by Su Tayar Lin and Zar Chi Oo from the project office. SMART was pleased that both workshops involved highly interactive discussions and provided an open and trustful platform for exchange of views.
In mid 2017 SMART Myanmar will publish a report on the project’s findings based on independent research and the outcomes of these events.