Govt urged to ensure natural resources income goes to union fund

Writer: 
Nyein Zaw Lin and Myo Min Htet
MPs seen arriving before a Lower House session on October 19.
A Lower House MP on Thursday tabled a motion urging the union government to adopt plans for ensuring that all income from natural resources is publicised in a transparent manner and then goes to the union fund in line with the proposal made by Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Myanmar joined EITI as a candidate in July 2014.
The motion was tabled by Lower House MP Dr Thet Thet Khaing and supported by MP Ye Mon.
“I have made this proposal because Myanmar is rich in natural resources. But its citizens have not enjoyed benefits, and the country has been one of the least developed countries for over 30 years,” Thet Thet Khain said.
According to the 2017 Resource Governance Index published by Natural Resource Governance Institute, Myanmar is ranked 89th in the global countries extracting natural resources and 77th in the oil and gas production, she noted. Myanmar is also ranked 83rd in the mineral sector.
“But sadly, Myanmar is among the 13 countries with their citizens enjoying the least benefits from natural resources. I tabled this proposal to push the government to reach a certain development,” said Thet Thet Khaing.
She also said a government elected by the people needs to let them know how the natural resources are being managed.
The income from natural resources in 2013-2014 fiscal year accounted for 23.6 per cent of the total income from all other sectors and 6 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Thet Thet Khaing quoted the Myanmar 2016 EITI report as saying that just over half of the income from natural resources went to the union fund and the remaining “strangely” went to state-owned enterprises.
She said that the report put the income from sales of gems and jewels at just US$380 million (517.56 trillion kyat). But that figure was far less than that described by other independent organisations.
Lower House Speaker Win Myint invited MPs who wanted to discuss the proposal to sign up for a list.