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Better allocation of natural resources can promote national reconciliation: analyst

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By Myanmar Times / 04 August 2016

The government’s economic policy, released last week, could dovetail with its peace policy to help ensure resources are shared for the country as a whole, an economic analyst has said. A statement released on July 29 said greater fairness in the allocation of resources among regions and states could help the country pursue national reconciliation.

The pursuit of national reconciliation through the establishment of a market-oriented economic system is a key objective of the 12-point plan announced by the government on July 29.

Economic analyst U Ye Min Oo said fairness in resource sharing would support the peace process, with the cornerstone summit, the 21st-century Panglong Conference, slated to be convened later this month.

A resource sharing policy would allow the Union government to share tax revenues from various sectors in the interests of states and regions, in accordance with negotiated agreements yet to be reached, he said.

Kachin State produces jade, Shan State and Sagaing Region produce gold and minerals, and Rakhine State produces oil and natural gas. But all the income from those natural resources has been flowing into central government coffers, leaving no opportunity for the regions and states to enjoy income from natural resources extraction, say analysts.

Kachin State Chief Minister U Khat Aung said, “Kachin State produces jade as well as timber, while the country’s central zone can’t produce anything. Natural resources have been extracted, but no one has reaped the benefits over the past 50 years of a dictatorial regime. The introduction of federalism would prioritise the welfare of states. For example, allowing the central government to take 10 percent, while the remaining 90pc is shared out among the 14 regions and states. We have a responsibility to conserve natural resources from generation to generation.”

Former Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Ye Tun said the government’s economic policy does not state clearly how resources will be shared out.

They policy seeks to increase available financial resources under a transparent and strong public-oriented financial management; to ensure the success of state-owned enterprises; to privatise enterprises that can be reformed and to support small and medium enterprises which can support job creation and economic development; to foster human resources for the country’s economic growth; and to improve the development of vocational education.

Natural resource sharing has been hot topic at recent ethnic organisation summits, including the key meeting held at Mai Ja Yang in Kachin State last week. The 17 groups attending Mai Ja Yang pressed for the government to include discussions of land and resource management at the upcoming Panglong Conference. However, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said only two agenda items will be on the table at the coming meet – politics and security. Further topics can be discussed during the political dialogue stage set to occur after the conference, she has said.

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