Bid to boost corporate transparency in Myanmar accelerates

An annual study on business transparency of Myanmar companies would be widened next year to encourage inclusiveness and accountability in a larger context, according to Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, a Yangon-based initiative funded by six European nations.

MCRB director Vicky Bowman said that the assessment of companies’ websites would be doubled to 200 firms to be more inclusive. She said the report on Transparency in Myanmar enterprises known as Pwint Thit Sa would encourage companies to transparently publish their business information on their websites.

“Transparency of companies listed on Yangon Stock exchange, public companies, other influential companies including large taxpayers and medium- and large- sized companies which have volunteered to be benchmarked would be studied through their publicised information,” she said.

She said the research phase began earlier this week in cooperation with the organisation’s new partner, Yever, a Myanmar business consultancy. Five core dimensions_ corporate culture, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility management, communication and reporting_ would be covered in the report.

“These criteria are aligned with global and regional corporate governance and sustainability such as the Asean Corporate Governance Scorecard which is being used in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore,” she said.

The organisation started doing such reports in 2014 to encourage increased transparency by Myanmar businesses through the internet. To date, it has published three full reports and a mini report. The report was not published this year, as the methodology was redesigned.

“After three reports which have used the same 35 criteria for examining websites for information, we have decided to refresh the methodology. We want to raise the bar for some of those companies who were close to scoring 10/10,” she said.

“We are therefore widening the range of corporate information which we are seeking. We are also widening the scope to include major public companies for whom corporate governance should be a top priority. We are delighted to be partnering with Yever to make this report.”

Bowman said the companies would be informed of the revised indicators through the letters to be sent by MCRB. A questionnaire and list of the companies to be assessed would be uploaded on the organisation’s website soon.

Interested medium-sized or large Myanmar companies not included in the list who want to be included in the report are also invited to contact the organisation.

“We want to encourage Myanmar companies to be more transparent. If they are more transparent, stakeholders will have more information to hold them to be accountable,” she said.

According to Bowman, the final report would be released by March 2018. Before that, Yever will assessed the websites and share the initial assessment with the companies and invite them to comment or provide updates in early 2018.

She said in an earlier interview that the report also played a vital role in improving governance policy, anti-corruption practices, respect of human rights and the environment.

“Our finding is that many Myanmar companies do not understand transparency is something that business partners are interested in. For example, International Finance Corporation is looking only to invest in responsible businesses,” she said.

“Transparency can attract more employees and partners with a good reputation. In brief, it is a social licence to operate as well as the ability to get the acceptance of community. Community will appreciate more.

“For the country as a whole, you need to have a business sector which is not engaging in corruption. That is one reason why we focus on looking at whether or not these companies have a policy on giving gifts to government officials. If you have more companies that exercise international practices, it will be better for the national economy to grow further,” she added.

Source: Eleven Myanmar

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