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Burma’s Resource Curse: The Case for Revenue Transparency in the Oil and Gas Sector

By Arakan Oil Watch  •  March 22, 2012

Burma is rich in natural resources, particularly natural gas and oil. Yet instead of using these resources for the country’s development through industry and job growth, military leaders have been exporting them for over a decade. This has generated huge revenue flows, but a lack of transparency and mismanagement of these revenues has left

Burma with some of the worse development indicators in the world, creating a resource curse. Sales revenues of natural gas exports alone amounted to US$ 2.5 billion in 2010-11. It is estimated that this amount will increase by over 60% to US$ 4.1 billion starting from 2013 as three additional production blocks come on line. Further revenues will be generated from over 40 additional oil and gas blocks that are currently under exploration.

Despite this enormous wealth, Burma remains extremely poor and its people live with chronic energy shortages. It is a country crippled by corruption, with its major businesses controlled by military companies and cronies. Burma is censured for major human rights violations, and continues to suffer from a decades-old civil war between the ruling government and ethnic peoples. Due to Burma’s lack of protection laws, projects which extract and export natural resources have directly led to human rights abuses such as forced labor, land confiscation, rape and displacement, as well as severe environmental degradation.

The projects also fuel armed conflict as government and ethnic troops clash in order to access and control project areas. The revenues from resource extraction projects have in turn helped prop up authoritarian rule and enrich top military generals.

Download the report in English or Burmese here.

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This post is in: Business and Human Rights, Environmental and Economic Justice

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