‘Tone from the top’ crucial in anti-corruption: DICA

There is a lack of awareness about the transparency and corporate governance aspects of the new Companies Law, according to a senior government official, who argued for the importance of tone from the top in combating corruption.

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) and the Union of Myanmar Federation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) co-hosted a seminar on fighting corruption this month.

Myanmar’s anti-corruption efforts gained traction this year, following the adoption of the 4th Amendment to the 2013 Anti-Corruption Law, which empowered the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). In July, the UMFCCI and ACC issued a joint statement on combating corruption. However, there are still no criminal liability for offering bribes and no effective regulations on political donations.

During the seminar, U Aung Kyi, ACC chair, referred to the ACC adopting their Notification 14/2018, on October 19, which laid out fundamental principles for private sector organisations to develop a strong business code of ethics and to establish internal control measures to prevent corruption.

The eight principles stated are: strong, effective policy and support from top-level management to fight corruption; risk assessment to effectively identify and evaluate exposure to corruption; enhanced and detailed measures for high-risk and vulnerable areas; application of anti-corruption measures to business partners; accurate books and accounting records; human resource management policies complementary to anti-corruption measures; establishing trustworthy reporting mechanisms to report suspected corrupt behaviour; and periodic review and evaluation of anti-corruption prevention measures.

U Aung Naing Oo, director general of the Directorate for Investment and Company Administration (DICA), stressed the importance of leadership and “tone from the top” in the fight against corruption and drew on his own experience of improving the integrity and efficiency of the directorate’s processes.

In particular, the director general noted the lack of awareness about the new Companies Law provisions on disclosure and duties of directors. He explained that with the advent of the online companies registry (www.myco.dica.gov.mm), some information on companies is now publicly accessible and full company details and all available online filings would be available for purchase at 10,000 kyats per enquiry.

According to U Aung Naing Oo, the Myanmar Investment Commission recognised that corruption was a deterrent to foreign direct investment, and explained that one of the roles of the new Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations would be to streamline procedures for agencies involved in attracting and overseeing investment, to reduce red tape and opportunities for “tea-money” and corruption. He highlighted low salaries as a driver of “tea-money” demands.


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