Why Burma Needs Transparency
Image Credit: Thai Government

Why Burma Needs Transparency

0 Likes
4 comments

With Burma’s economy having for decades been operating without an appropriate system of government budgeting and accounting, the Burmese people have a complete lack of information about their country’s overall financial picture. The government therefore urgently needs to implement measures to improve governance of its institutions, ensure fiscal transparency and improve fiscal policy if it is to properly transition towards being a successful, modern nation.

The hybrid-military-dominated parliament was this week scheduled to debate the union budget. But designing systems to ensure fiscal discipline requires input from all stakeholders on macroeconomic and social issues.  

There’s no universal formula for ensuring fiscal discipline, but regardless of how a country gets there, it should require organizations to ensure that expenditures can be met without relying on significant debt (or excessive printing  of money) and that fiscal information is released publicly in a timely manner. To ensure balance, Burma’s budget should be aimed at allocating more to education, health and social affairs, while reducing overspending on the military and defense sector.

The nation’s economic growth and performance will ultimately need to be based on the foundations of good governance and prudent fiscal policy.

In practical terms, this means the administration should at the outset establish a special budget reform taskforce to concentrate on tackling the challenges likely to occur during the budget reform process. In order to prevent the deterioration of the prospects for fiscal reform, parliamentarians will have to play a more proactive role in budgetary discussions. The government, for its part, should send its economists overseas to study fiscal reforms and economic transitional experiences.

Second, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Burma has been ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world for decades. This corruption has a direct impact on the people and the economic health of the entire nation. Both the generals and the state’s bureaucrats have responsibility for the existence of such corruption as they have failed to ensure adequate budget and fiscal management. State agencies need to be more accountable to the people of Burma.

Third, Burma’s former generals printed money to try to ensure double-digit economic growth, but such an approach has led to hyperinflation. Burma must work to combat inflation and ensure a stable monetary policy in order to create the environment needed for economic prosperity, financial investment, and stability.

Fourth, although sub-national governments were only established recently, the union government ought to encourage them to establish their own fiscal plans and taxation. They must manage their revenue, expenditures and projects by themselves.

Finally, the people’s participation in the budgeting process and financial reporting should be transparent and accountable. The public should be informed about their foreign debt and overseas borrowing. Burma needs to undertake profound economic and fiscal reform if it is to march down the path towards a more democratic society. The budget submitted by the government will be an indicator of just how serious the government is about economic reform and tackling poverty.

Naing Ko Ko is a recipient of the 2010 Amnesty International New Zealand Human Rights Defender Award and a former Burmese political prisoner.

Comments
4
The envoy
January 29, 2012 at 23:04

Is CSIS transparent

Derek J. Mitchell
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator
Burma
Term of Appointment: 08/15/2011 to present

Derek J. Mitchell is the Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador. Prior to this appointment, Amb. Mitchell served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, from April 2009 until August 2011. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the Defense Department’s security policy in Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Amb. Mitchell served as senior fellow and director of the Asia Division of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He joined the Center in January 2001. Amb. Mitchell concurrently served as founding director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Initiative, which was inaugurated in January 2008 and was the Center’s first dedicated program to the study of Southeast Asian affairs.

Sham or Shame
January 29, 2012 at 23:01

Echo Our leader?

After years of misery, you all want to seem like your doing a good thing
for your country. Shame on all of you. Your leader lives in a luxurious
18 million dollar home. All the while people go begging.

Closer Look
January 29, 2012 at 22:58

Is this the American answer ?

A former former and a former now is a special envoy?
Is CSIS transparent? a former DOD man ?

Derek J. Mitchell
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator
Burma
Term of Appointment: 08/15/2011 to present

Derek J. Mitchell is the Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador. Prior to this appointment, Amb. Mitchell served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, from April 2009 until August 2011. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the Defense Department’s security policy in Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/170595.htm

Myo Thein Burma Democratic Concern BDC
January 27, 2012 at 18:52

I am the Director of the Burma Democratic Concern (BDC). In the past, we had supported the sanction on Burma. Now we call for lifting TOURISM, TRADE & INVESTMENT sanction on Burma due to the positive development in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) warmly welcomes the release of hundreds of political prisoners. According to the list of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD network inside Burma who are supporting prisoners and visiting prisons around the country — the numbers are approximately nearest well documented by NLD that there are 591 political prisoners in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) welcomes the decision of the government to release the political prisoners according to the lists of NLD and we call for U Thein Sein regime to release all the rest of the political prisoners in accord with the NLD’s list of political prisoners.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) also welcomes US Government decision to normalise diplomatic relation in response to Burma Government’s positive steps taken. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) encourages international community to engage more with Burma in order to balance China’s influence over Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that more engagement would effectively promote political, civil, democratic and economic freedom in Burma.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has already invited investment and tourism in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) would like to echo our leader’s call for investment and tourism in Burma. Please do invest in Burma and please do visit Burma. Burma is facing challenges ahead which we must address sensibly, wisely and realistically for her quest for democracy. Burma must resolve poverty, corruptions, poor technology, and lack of expertise, poor banking, unemployment and inflation and fiscal and monetary policies.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for investment in Burma which will significantly boost the welfare of the Burmese people. By removing investment and trade sanction on Burma, Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burmese citizens will have the benefits of increased investment which can bring technology, knowledge and democratic values since outside investment strengthens private institutions. At the same time, Burma must work hard to end the economics monopoly and cronyism in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) welcomes tourists visiting Burma so as to promote ordinary Burmese people engaging with people from around the world.

Burma needs technology and financial assistance from international community to help rebuilding the nation after five decades of isolation and economics mismanagement. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very concerned that due to the sanction imposed on Burma as the subsequence crucial international aid are stopped delivering in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for international community to provide more humanitarian assistance and development aid inside Burma and since in the past most of the US government’s aid programme went to organisations based in Thailand. If there are obstacles blocking aids going inside Burma then we must remove them immediately since we don’t want to hurt the livelihood of the ordinary people of Burma whom are suffering from reputation risk. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) opposes anything hurting people.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very sad to learn that Burma receives less foreign aid money than any country in Southeast Asia because of the sanction imposed on Burma. For example, in 2009-10 Burma receives only $US7.2 per capita of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) while neighbouring Laos received $US64.4. Particularly international community must remove all sanctions that block technical assistance in health and social welfare. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) is very shocked to learn that restrictions imposed by western countries prohibit assistance from reaching any member of the government because of which prohibit providing any assistance such as even providing training to teachers and health workers.

In particular, Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for more assistance and international investment in education, social and health care in Burma. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burmese people will be very happy if International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) could help tackling poverty in Burma since Burma needs financial and technological assistance from international community so as to address the immediate needs of the people and in the process of rebuilding Burma.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) truly believes that Burma is on the right track for democratic change. In order to help reliving the suffering of the people of Burma, we must have common position amongst all parties concerned by putting national interest first. Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) calls for international community to remove TOURISM, TRADE and INVESTMENT sanction on Burma in order to alleviate suffering of Burmese people who are suffering from REPUTATION RISK and to encourage Burmese government’s reform process which had already started.

Share your thoughts

Your Name
required
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment
required

Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief