Building on What's There: Insights on social protection, tax and accountability from central-east Myanmar

Gerard McCarthy; Myanmar; tax; social protection
In 2014, Myanmar's Internal Revenue Department began a program requiring restaurants to purchase rolls of stamps, which are then affixed to restaurant receipts to prove to customers they are paying tax.

After decades of arbitrary and extractive local taxation, Myanmar’s new National League for Democracy government has launched campaigns to increase tax revenue. It has also committed to expanding state-mediated social protection schemes established by the Thein Sein government, including in recent ceasefire areas. This presentation will explore some obstacles to reforming state-society relations in areas of tax and social welfare, particularly the significant role of non-government actors in the lives of everyday people.

Based on extensive qualitative fieldwork as well as an 1000-household survey in central Myanmar (Taungoo, Bago Region) and a mixed-administered ceasefire area (Thandaungyi, Karen State), I will explore three key questions: who provides care and local public goods at present?; how are these financed, and what is the real tax and donations’ burden of households?; and how can Myanmar government agencies learn from the accountability mechanisms of trusted non-state providers to build trust in public authority and taxation?

Gerard McCarthy is a doctoral candidate in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University. He has advised and consulted for a range of agencies including United States Institute of Peace and The Carter Centre and his writing has been published in outlets including Myanmar Times, The Guardian, New Mandala, Lowy Institute for International Affairs, Institute of South East Asian Studies and the Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Survey research for this project was generously supported by the International Growth Centre Myanmar, and conducted by Yangon School of Political Science.

Event details



Gerard McCarthy

Date & time

Tuesday 25 October 2016



Hedley Bull Building, Fellows Road, Acton ACT 2601


Allison Ley
02 61 253097

Updated:  7 October 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Myanmar Research Centre/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team