DAOs, municipal-type authorities outside of Yangon and Mandalay, have powers to raise their own revenues through taxes, fees and licenses and deliver services such as garbage collection, roads and bridges, street lighting, sewers and drainage to the citizens.
Taunggyi Township DAO Executive Officer U Aye Ko said following the recent launch of the budget that this first DAO budget report would definitely help to build trust between the DAO officers and public that could generate more revenue for city development projects.
The DAO’s first published budget was supported by the San Francisco-based The Asia Foundation, a non-profit international development organization.
“People will not be afraid or reluctant to pay taxes if they realized where public finances are used for. And this can be one of the initiatives for other state and regions to adapt such kind of budget transparency,” U Aye Ko, also the Acting Director of Shan State Development Affairs, said.
Taunggyi’s DAO citizen’s budget’s publication builds on the momentum surrounding increased budget transparency and accountability among government that began in 2017 when states and regions across Myanmar first started developing sub-national citizen’s budgets.
The Asia Foundation’s country representative for Myanmar Matthew Arnold said in a press release that the publication was critical at the municipal level where government decisions have the most impact.
“Citizen’s budgets are a vital form of communication between governments and their people, contributing to more informed publics, higher trust between governments and the people they represent and, ultimately, a stronger democracy,” he added.
Research conducted by The Asia Foundation, including the City Life Survey, shows a strong demand from Myanmar urban residents for information on their DAO’s budgets.
Publishing such a document shows the willingness of Taunggyi municipal authorities to improve their communication with residents, increase transparency, and more responsibly manage public finances.
The document enables citizens to be more informed about how municipal systems work and they can more readily gauge the link between how low property tax rates and low revenues affect the DAO’s ability to spend on services such as solid waste management and city infrastructure development.
The Asia Foundation has been providing technical assistance to DAOs in 12 townships to improve their waste management, tax administration and communication with citizens through technology and capacity building.
The budget was created with the support of the UK’s Department for International Development, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.