From left, Moe Moe Tun, Shwe Win, Kyaw Thet, Than Htay Aung, and Zaw Bo Khant at a press conference on the launch of Myanmar EITI reports in Yangon(Photo- Khine Kyaw, Myanmar Eleven).
IN an effort to improve transparency and good governance in extractive industries such as mining, gems and jade, oil and gas, Myanmar on Thursday launched two reports on its extractive industries. “These reports were prepared to strengthen the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Myanmar. We are eager to make all our extractive sectors responsible and transparent so the nation can generate more income for the good of the people,” said KyawThet, deputy director general at the Department of Mining and government representative of Myanmar EITI Multi-stakeholder Group (MSG).
He believes Myanmar would yield a good result in the validation process which will start from July 1.
“For our country, it is a very important process to become a compliant country for EITI. We are now preparing to develop the Open Data Policy which was described in EITI Standard 2016,” he said. “Since we began our efforts to join this initiative a few years ago, we have set our heart on having good governance in every single company that is doing business in all the extractive industries here. For developed nations like the United States and the United Kingdom, their institutions are strong enough and well-established so they do not need to be involved in the initiative. But on the contrary, we need to be active in this regard.”
He admitted it was really hard to lure companies to be actively involved in the EITI process, as there was no mandatory regulation for that. Yet, he seems proud to manage to finalise the reports within seven months.
“We want to cover all the extractive companies across the nation. But quite a few of them were involved. Some companies refused to take part in our research works, provided that it is not mandatory. Anyhow, we managed to cover all the major companies here,” he said.
He sees a lot of improvements in the two reports which emphasised on two fiscal years (FY2014-15 and FY2015-16), when compared to the nation’s first EITI report in December 2015. He says the EITI process bears fruit, citing Transparency International’s annual corruption perception index in which Myanmar ranked 130th in the world, improving much from its previous ranking of 172th.
Open data portal
“We are on the right track, provided that we have planned to launch a transparent open data portal next month and will implement, in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, a mineral and gemstone cadaster this year,” he said.
Additionally, Myanmar will launch an initial report on beneficial ownership in collaboration with voluntary companies next month. In support of the EITI process, sub-national coordination units have been established in Tanintharyi and Mandalay regions and will also form in four more regions and States -Magwe, Sagaing, Shan and Rakhine.
Moe MoeTun, central executive member of Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability and member of MSG, said the initiative could help reduce environmental impacts caused by extraction of natural resources. “We cannot deny that extractive industries may harm the environment. Obviously, we can see negative impacts in Hpa-kant. Most of the gem blocks are controlled by the military. People need to be aware of State-owned enterprises and military-run businesses. Whether the military should be actively involved in commercial activities should be a serious question raised by our citizens,” she said. Zaw Bo Khant, vice chairman of Myanmar Gems and Jade Enterprise Association, said the authorities should ban inactive companies from extraction of the resources.
“It is very easy to establish a company here, if there are two or more directors in the management. There are over 4,000 companies in the gems and jade sector, and a lot of them apply for the blocks for extraction. But many of them become inactive and cannot do any extraction because it costs a fortune to do so. This is a big problem here,” he said.