Peace Conference Adopts 14 More Basic Principles, Only 1 Economic

By Nyein Nyein 18 July 2018

NAYPYITAW — The third session of the Union Peace Conference ended with 14 more basic principles adopted as Part II of the Union Accord, only one in the economic sector.

The addendum for the economic sector in Part II of the Union Accord reads: “Region/State governments have the right to draw up and implement economic projects that benefit the people. In drawing up the projects, it is to be in accord with the Union economic development policies and projects, and consideration must be made toward not adversely affecting the adjacent states and regions.”

“It did not come easily to even get this one principle approved by all stakeholders. There was a heated discussion,” said Nang Khin Aye Oo, a politician from the Karen People’s Party who participated in the economic sector discussion.

Eleven economic principles were agreed to in Part I of the Union Accord, signed in May of last year.

Weeks before the Union Peace Conference, representatives of the government, Parliament, Tatmadaw, ethnic armed organizations and political parties laid out 16 proposed principles for discussion at the economic sector working committees of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee. The principles largely involved federally based economics and development.

The principles were debated early this month at working committee discussions and the UPDJC secretariat said that 11 of them were brought to the committee for approval. But the UPDJC only agreed to share one of the proposed principles at the UPC.

The Irrawaddy learned that the other 10 principles were not agreed to due to Tatmadaw objections, mostly citing that the principles were already stated in the military-drafted 2008 Constitution or existing laws and procedures.

The proposed principles included the Union and state/regional governments being allowed to draft policies for private sector businesses, intending to increase transparency and responsible business practices.

Other rejected considerations regarded issues such as fair revenue sharing between the Union and state/regional governments; full rights to draft a budget and raise revenue and expenditures; subsidiary principles for regional authorities; and macroeconomic stability and a macroeconomic monitoring program.

In regards to fair revenue sharing, the Tatmadaw rejected this principle and cited that it was already stated in Part I of the Union Accord. It added that revenue sharing would be carried out in accordance with the Constitution, without stating which Constitution it was referring to.

Despite a lack of options for raising concerns over the agreed principles, key negotiators, delegates and observers of the conference told The Irrawaddy that this was simply a way to continue moving the peace process forward.

Some of the delegates expressed that they hoped more principles would have been discussed and signed, as it was fewer than the 37 that were agreed upon and signed last year.

U Nyan Win, the spokesman of the National League for Democracy party, echoed that “this is to keep the process moving.” He told The Irrawaddy on Monday that this conference and signing the Part II of the Union Accord is “a key for peace, and it cannot be skipped.”