Civil society condemns crony capitalism

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have unanimously agreed at the Myanmar People’s Forum that a handful of cronies who have close ties with the government are becoming richer thanks to the inflow of foreign investment.

The CSOs and attendees to the forum held in the Diamond Jubilee Hall said only cronies got the green light to investment.

Only entrepreneurs close to the government had a chance to do businesses with foreign investors and even blacklisted companies could become legal.

The groups condemned the rapid increase in property prices due to investment in businesses after money laundering had been completed and the manipulation of limited land resources owned by cronies.

“While the current government was in office, only cronies and those close to the government have become richer thanks to the massive influx of foreign investment. The income gap is widening. People have yet to enjoy the fruits of economic development to be brought about by the investment,” said Wai Wai Lwin from Padaytharmoe organisation.

Corruption was rampant as it was in the process of transforming the country from military rule to a democratic system, the conference heard.

A delegate, Thaung Han, said: “In his speech, the president has already said that the green light should not be given only to one organisation or a handful of people. But now a handful of privileged people are better off while other people’s position remains unchanged.”

Delegates blamed the fact that businesses in Myanmar were run by families and a more balanced income would be seen with increased share-based companies.

The country could not build export-based market as international companies were making investments based on cheap labour and the natural resources market, the CSOs said.

A total of 17 workshops on investment and challenges in development projects were held at the three-day Myanmar People’s Forum. The results will be released and then submitted to the government.


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