Myanmar: EITI urges state firms to improve civil society participation; raises concerns over freedom of expression & association

Author: John Liu, Myanmar Times, Published on: 19 October 2019

"EITI urges Myanmar to improve civil society participation, state firm transparency", 18 October 2019

Myanmar needs to improve civil society participation and transparency in state firms despite good progress in data disclosure over the next 18 months, said the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI)...upon the validation of Myanmar.

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A UN Fact-Finding Mission report released in August characterised state firms such as Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, the three Myanmar Mining Enterprises, Myanmar Gems Enterprise and Myanmar Timber Enterprise as having "largely opaque" finances. The Myanmar government rejected the report findings.

With the SOEs generating more than half of the government's revenue, governance experts say more oversight and transparency are necessary to ensure greater accountability.

"The Board emphasises the need for Myanmar to ensure that the status of military-affiliated extractive companies is clarified," said the EITI board in a statement.

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Meanwhile, the EITI Secretariat's assessment has raised concerns over freedom of expression and freedom of association. Civil society's ability to speak about contentious issues related to EITI implementation has been limited due to threats and fear of reprisal.

"There is evidence that there are constraints to civil society's freedom to associate with other members within their constituency in subnational regions that are resource-rich and where issues in the extractive sector are contentious and dominated by ethnic armed organisations," warned the Secretariat.

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