Burmese Tycoons Contribute $8 Million to Govt Peace Fund

By Nyein Nyein 24 January 2017

Burmese tycoons contributed more than 11 billion kyats (US$8 million) to the National Reconciliation and Peace Center’s Peace Fund, within two weeks of the government calling on the public to donate.

The funds received will be coordinated by the newly-formed Joint Coordination Body (JCB) for peace process funding. The JCB will oversee the expenses in four key sectors: ceasefire negotiation and implementation; negotiation and dialogue; development that supports peace; and the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC).

A detailed ist of national donors will be released soon, said U Zaw Htay, the President’s Office spokesperson.

“We are compiling a list,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, “and there will be an honorary ceremony for some of those who contributed.”

“So far, more than 11 billion kyats have been contributed, including donations from businesses like Kanbawza Bank and Shwe Than Lwin Media Co. The number could go up to as high as 15 billion kyats as more donations come in,” said U Khin Shwe, the chairman of the Zaykabar Company and a former Upper House lawmaker.

U Khin Shwe said he would also donate 1 billion kyats. Last week, the Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation—which is the philanthropic wing of the country’s largest bank, Kanbawza Bank—donated 3 billion kyats toward the peace process.

Earlier this month, the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) members of Parliament also donated 200 million kyats from an NLD lawmakers fund—into which 25 percent of their salaries are contributed—to the peace fund.

The NLD government has been using the national budget for peace related projects, including the convening of the 21st Panglong peace conference, despite the availability of foreign aid.

The government said the Peace Fund will allow public “ownership” of the peace process and the State Counselor urged Burmese tycoons to contribute.

“We want our people to feel ownership for the process. We also know that foreign aid has been available, so we formed the JCB to be able to effectively use this aid for the peace process as well,” said Zaw Htay.

“Amagyi [State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] wants to have peace in the country…so, our donations will be useful in some way to help support those in need—especially for food and shelter for internally displaced people,” added former lawmaker U Khin Shwe.

“Amagyi said we, the national people, should donate because up to this point the international community has been supporting the peace process,” he said.

Two Union peace conferences were held in 2016 and a third one [the second 21st Century Panglong peace conference] is to be likely to held in late February.

To convene the first Union Peace Conference in January 2016 under former president U Thein Sein, some 300 million kyats from the national budget and some US$100,000 from international peace funds were used, according to sources close to the former government’s peace team.

Information about the cost of holding the 21st Century Panglong peace conference in September 2016 has not yet been released.