US to Support World Bank, IMF in Burma

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (right) presents a Global Citizen Award to Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the Global Citizen Awards Dinner in New York on Sept. 21, 2012. (PHOTO: Reuters)

WASHINGTON—US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will allow his administration to support the assistance being provided to Burma by international financial institutions like World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Obama signed the legislation (H R 6431) into law, days after Burma’s President Thein Sein and the country’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, left the United States after their historic visits to the country.

“In enacting this bill, the President and Congress have demonstrated strong US support for the critical role of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) in helping promote stronger institutions to ensure sound economic policy and good governance in Burma,” the Deputy Treasury Secretary, Neal S. Wolin, said.

Noting that this will support inclusive development in Burma and help reintegrate the country into the international economic community, he said the law provides the Obama administration with the flexibility to determine, in the national interest, whether to support, abstain on or vote against IFI financial assistance for Burma.

“Implementation of this law will provide the United States with the ability to shape the policies and activities of these institutions in a way that advances reform, good governance, transparency, and accountability in Burma,” Wolin said.

In a related development, a group of nearly 18 human rights groups has expressed concern over what they allege the “weak reporting requirements” for US companies considering investing in Burma.

In a letter to the State Department, organizations including Earth Rights International, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights, US Campaign for Burma, and United to End Genocide said that they continue to be deeply concerned by the US government’s decision to lift all remaining sanctions, and allow corporations unrestricted investment access to Burma despite widespread corruption, ongoing human rights violations, and a total lack of rule of law.

“Although US companies will be required to report on their investments, the current requirements lack specificity about enforcement and consequences for non-compliance. Further, existing loopholes enable companies to designate information as ‘confidential’ as a way to avoid public scrutiny,” they said, demanding that the US government take immediate steps to ensure that there is a strong regulatory framework that can effectively promote accountability and transparency.

Observing that evidence shows that there is a direct correlation between foreign investment and human rights abuse in Burma, particularly in the resource-rich ethnic minority areas, these rights bodies said as investment floods unfettered into the country, there are real risks that American companies will find themselves complicit in rights violations unless the US government enforces regulations that mitigate some of the negative impacts of investment.

“There is already growing concern about increasing land grabs, authorized by the Burmese government for the purpose of creating industrial zones to entice foreign investment, which have displaced farmers and local communities throughout Burma,” they said in their submission to the US State Department.

“Companies that are poised to be the first in the country are keen to invest in Burma’s extractive resource sector, which lacks transparency and suffers from pervasive corruption. Profits generated by the sector are known to have funded military operations in ethnic areas and contributed to the exacerbation of these conflicts,” they said.

“We strongly urge the US government to implement the recommendations outlined in the comment submitted by our organizations and others, which are designed to strengthen accountability and transparency of US corporations investing in Burma,” these organizations said.

Meanwhile, the Rohingya Muslims in a letter on Sunday to the Organization of Islamic Corporation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, thanked him for his effort in taking up their case. In his letter, Wakar Uddin, the director-general of the Arakan Rohingya Union, conveyed the profound gratitude of Muslims for the OIC efforts at various international levels in order to reach a final and deep-rooted solution to the plight of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims.


3 Responses to US to Support World Bank, IMF in Burma

  1. I wish we have real Democracy in the Union of Burma. But what we are seeing in Burma is not even close to what we wish for. The international community has been cheated successfully by the Myanmar’s new junta led by Thein Sein and Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi is no longer opposition leader but part of the junta.

  2. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The bill which will allow Obama’s administration to support assistance to Burma from international financial institutions means thousands of jobs to Burmese people. This is a clear cut sign of US’s strong support to Burmese people and their democratization process. The vision without actions is a daydreaming. The action without vision is simply passing the time. The vision with action is making a positive difference, that is where Burma is right now and calling its friends to gives their supports behind it. 

    The vision that has been laid out for future Burma by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi desperately needs the kinds of the action of support US has just taken to overcome the challenge Burma is facing on the road to its democratization. No more daydreaming and no more wasting time. It is so disturbing to see what US campaign for Burma and some INGOs are doing right now. They’ve got to stop daydreaming and wasting time.  It doesn’t help any positive changes taking place in Burma. They should listen to the voices of the people of Burma rather than opposing them with their own conviction that they know more than the stage holders. 

    Now is the time to give Burma a chance to be on its own feet for its long term stability; all we have to do right now is to have more patient and time for Burma and be supportive in its reform process and its transition from tyranny to democracy.  

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  3. George Than Setkyar Heine

     “There is already growing concern about increasing land grabs,
    authorized by the Burmese government for the purpose of creating
    industrial zones to entice foreign investment, which have displaced
    farmers and local communities throughout Burma,” they said in their
    submission to the US State Department”
    As REAL and TRUE as God’s laws!
    “Companies that are poised to be the first in the country are keen to
    invest in Burma’s extractive resource sector, which lacks transparency
    and suffers from pervasive corruption. Profits generated by the sector
    are known to have funded military operations in ethnic areas and
    contributed to the exacerbation of these conflicts,” they said.
    Again the TRUTH!
    “We strongly urge the US government to implement the recommendations
    outlined in the comment submitted by our organizations and others, which
    are designed to strengthen accountability and transparency of US
    corporations investing in Burma,” these organizations said.
    DITTO ON MY PART as well for that matter.
    Without LAWS/REGULATIONS in place TO STRENGTHEN ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY the US corporations would only FATTEN the WALLETS of Than Shwe, his generals and their CRONIES only.
    The US corporations would be DEEMED as PARTIES to Than Shwe’s GRAND PLAN/SCHEME of MAKING the PEOPLE of BURMA the virtual SLAVES of his regime and CRONIES LOADED with BLACK MONEY and ESTABLISHING their EMPIRE and FURTHERING WEALTH as well while the PEOPLE are COMPELLED to WORK for THEM and ON THEIR OWN TERMS as well  on the long run.
    Hence, PUT the SANCTIONS and INVESTMENTS in BURMA on HOLD until ALL RELEVANT and REQUIRED MECHANISMS are IN PLACE for EQUAL DISTRIBUTION of WEALTH among the PEOPLE of BURMA specifically the ETHNIC PEOPLE on WHOSE LANDS the BULK of BURMA’S NATURAL RESOURCES and WEALTH are EMBEDDED and ABOUND to be FAIR and JUST as well I say.

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