H.E U TINT SWE
MINISTRY OF CONSTRUCTION
GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR
25th SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
FOR THE OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL
OF THE HABITAT AGENDA
STATEMENT OF THE HEAD OF DELEGATION
June 7, 2001
It is an honor and a privilege for me to address this 25th Special Session of the General Assembly on behalf of the Government of the Union of Myanmar.
The convening of the Special Session for the overall review and appraisal of the Habitat Agenda offers us a unique opportunity to review our country's efforts in human settlement development and to set new priorities for sustainable development.
Our participation in all the Substantive Sessions of the Preparatory
Committee for ISTANBUL+5 process and the Regional Preparatory Meeting in
China has increased our awareness and understanding to tackle the problems
of urbanization in this new millennium.
Against the background of the Asia Pacific Region, which is rapidly urbanizing, Myanmar's urban population of 14 million out of 50 million people is still low as compared to neighboring countries. Major cities and towns are geographically balanced throughout the country. As Myanmar's economy is based on agriculture, rural development is the priority sector of the national economy.
Considerable success has been achieved in our efforts to improve the living standards of the people through building of physical and social infrastructure, in transport, education and health facilities with a view to developing all regions equally, closing the gap of development between hilly regions and the plains and narrowing the development gap between rural and urban areas.
In the shelter sector, the Government has adopted different strategies for provision of land and housing. Alternative strategies were implemented in areas such as urban expansion, relocation of services and redevelopment schemes.
The role of the Government in the housing sector has changed from the provider of housing to facilitator and regulator that allows the private sector to share in the government's role in providing housing needs through various means.
One of the success stories in squatter upgrading schemes is the introduction
of "hut to apartment" projects within the squatter areas, whereby the squatters
were accommodated on the allotted apartments after completion of new construction.
As part of the Government policy to eradicate poverty in the rural areas, equal opportunities are provided in the needed areas for provision of health care facilities, schools, creating employment opportunities and improving access to drinking water and construction of roads.
In the area of urban governance, the Government has successfully implemented
a series of decentralization initiatives that include formation of Yangon
City Development Committee and Mandalay City Development Committee under
the direct supervision of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council and the Prime Minister. In order to implement development tasks
in other major cities and towns including border areas and rural regions,
a new Ministry was formed to cater to the needs of these regions.
The Government of Union of Myanmar is making endeavors to raise the living standards of the people both in urban and rural areas. In this regard, development of rural areas plays an important role.
The Government emphasizes the harmonious and complementary development of rural and urban regions with the ultimate aim of the emergence of a peaceful, modern and developed nation.
Over the period from 1988 to the present, we have witnessed the successful cooperation and participation of private sector and community based organizations in building safe and sound settlements that are socially and environmentally sustainable.
We are aware that we have common concerns in tackling the problem of urbanization. In the process, the unique problems characteristic to each sub-region and especially to each individual country should also be addressed.
In this new millennium, the greatest challenge for all of us will be the development of sustainable human settlements. Here, the key institutional challenge remains the capacity building at townships level where understanding local needs and conditions will be the prerequisite for effectively carrying out their development mandate.
Through sharing knowledge and learning from each other's success stories, we are fully confident that this Special Sessions will produce recommendations, which will lead to concrete actions to improve the quality of life in cities and human settlements.