Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Myanmar Lowest Ranking Nation in Resource Governance: Revenue Watch Institute

By Shwe Gas Movement  •  May 15, 2013

Myanmar was given the lowest resource governance ranking in the world according to a new index, released by the Revenue Watch Institute. The Shwe Gas Movement, which monitors Burmese natural resources, stated the result shows it is premature to invest in the resource rich country before structures are in place to manage large funds transparently and sustainably.

Revenue Watch’s Resource Governance Index measures the quality of governance in the oil, gas and mining sector of 58 countries worldwide. Together these nations produce 85 percent of the world’s oil, 90 percent of diamonds and 80 percent of copper, generating trillions of dollars annually. Each country, from Norway to Myanmar, is ranked according to four criteria:

  • Institutional and Legal Setting: Laws and systems that facilitate open, accountable government
  • Reporting Practices: The information governments actually share with the public
  • Safeguards and Quality Controls: The checks and balances in place to follow the money
  • Enabling Environment: The broader policies and practices that support democracy, transparency, accountability and rule of law

Myanmar received a failing score on every criteria, consistently ranking either 57 or 58. The Index attributes this failure to the overall lack of coherent legislation and the government’s unwillingness to disclose information about state-owned enterprises. The report further states:

Almost no information is available on the management of the extractive sector. Myanmar has no freedom of information law, and environmental and social impact assessments are not required… It is unclear which authority receives payments from extractive companies. It is widely assumed that corruption is rampant in the sector.

The threat of the resource curse in resource rich countries is widely recognized. Although Myanmar needs revenue to fight poverty and promote sustainable development, the index highlights weak institutions, corruption and a lack of transparency and accountability, which could undermine sustainable development and democratization.

The majority of Myanmar’s natural resources are located in ethnic regions where civil war has raged for decades. Currently the central government and some ethnic armed groups have begun formal talks to seek political solutions. “There are neither structures in place to manage funds transparently nor political reforms to ensure regional benefits and controls for the resource producing states,” said Wong Aung of the Shwe Gas Movement and continued, “The sale of natural resources before comprehensive political agreements is threatening to derail fragile peace negotiations.”

 “The Index research reveals a governance deficit in how transparent and accountable countries are with their natural resources,” said Daniel Kaufmann, president of Revenue Watch. “The Index analysis not only shows where we are now, but points out ways forward for countries, companies and global initiatives, and this matters because improved governance in natural resources is arguably the development challenge of this decade,” Kaufmann said.

The Index offers recommendations for both highly ranked countries like Brazil and low-ranking countries like Myanmar .

From disclosing contracts to passing a freedom of information act to improving state-owned company oversight, there are many ways for governments of resource-rich countries to become more effective and accountable to their citizens.

For more information – Wong Aung, International Coordinator, Shwe Gas Movement Email:global@shwe.org, Int’s Mobile: +66 857133344, Myanmar: + 95(0)9450065872

Tags: , , ,

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

Related Posts
Myanmar: Free Prisoners of Conscience in Rakhine State End Ongoing Persecution of Rohingya
UN Myanmar Rights Expert: Backtracking on Democratic Space Gains Momentum in Election Year
Myanmar’s Proposed Race and Religion Laws are Discriminatory and should be Scrapped
The FCO’s Human Rights Work 2013
BROUK Welcomes US Senate Resolution on Rohingya