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Daw Suu's Letter from Burma #11

Mainichi Daily News, Monday, February 5


Letter from Burma (No.11) by Aung San Suu Kyi

	Interviews with members of the media have become part of my normal work
schedule over the last seven months.  Some interviews are brief, 15 minutes
or so, limited to a particular topic which is the specialty of the newspaper
or magazine concerned.  Other interviews are longer and ramble over a wider
range of subjects.  There are a number of standard questions related to the
period of my house arrest and the work of the National League for Democracy
(NLD) which are asked in almost every interview.  Then there are questions
which relate to current developments.
	In recent weeks many journalists have asked about the economic policies of
the NLD.  One or two have even asked if we believed in an open-market
economy.  It brought home to me the fact that few foreigners knew of the
existence of the Manifesto brought out by our party for the 1990 elections.
And as there has been no official English translation of the Manifesto, even
those who knew of it might not have known much about its contents.  (The
authorities have not permitted the NLD to bring out any publications since
about two months after the elections.)
	In view of current media interest, I would like to put down here the
economic objectives of the NLD as stated under 11 clauses in the sections of
the Manifesto on the economy:
	a) Stability in prices, currency and employment; a national currency in
which the people can have confidence
	b) Appropriate monetary and fiscal policies and an effectively controlled
	c) A review of the exchange rate followed by necessary revision 
	d) Priority given to the import of fuel, vehicles and other goods that will
contribute toward a fall in prices
	e) Diversification of export goods
	f) Amendments in foreign investment laws with a view to increasing the
volume of investments
	g) Reductions of foreign debts and resumption of aid and assistance from abroad
	h) Review and, where necessary, revision or repeal of laws, decrees,
regulations and other restrictions which circumscribe economic activities
	I) Review and revision of the tax system to make private enterprise more
	j) An economy in which all the component parts are based fully on the
market economy; encouragement of the speedy development of private enterprise
	k) Promotion of a more efficient tourist industry.
	Of course, it is easy enough to set down economic objectives, the question
is how one sets about achieving them.  I have found the opinions expressed
by Dr. David Dapice, associate faculty fellow of the Harvard Institute for
International Development, in his reports on the Burmese economy to the
United Nations Development Program very similar to the views of the NLD.  In
"Prospects for Sustainable Growth in Myanmar/Burma" Dr. Dapice comments that
"economic reform is not simply setting an interest rate or exchange rate.
It is establishing a shared vision of where the policies should lead and
creating credibility and confidence that most movements will be in the right
	Credibility and confidence are basic to good business and this is what we
have to establish first if we want our policies to lead to a successful
open-market economy.  It is for this reason that the NLD believes that
essential to sound economic development is a political system firmly rooted
in the rule of law.  Here again I would like to refer to Dr. Dapice, who
holds that to reverse the trend in Burma toward "serious and
difficult-to-reverse economic, social, and political problems" there would
need to be "a strong and effective legal system, and a set of policies and
institutions that engender confidence enough for people to save in banks and
invest in the future without fear that they will, effectively, lose even if
they succeed."[2]
	When I am questioned as to my views on foreign investment I reply that now
is not yet the time to invest.  And to those who would query what the
alternative would be to "investment now," I would say: "Invest in the
future."  That is to say, invest in democracy for Burma if only for the sake
of your own profits.  Businesses that frame their investment policies with a
view to promoting an open, secure political system based on confidence and
credibility will find they are also promoting an open, secure economy based
on confidence and credibility where optimum returns can be expected by
investors.  A democratic Burma will be an economically dynamic and stable Burma.
[1] David Dapice, "Prospects for Sustainable Growth in Myanmar/Burma" (A
Report to the United Nations Development Program, September 12, 1995), p. 15
[2] Ibid.

* * *

This article is one of a yearlong series of letters, the Japan translation
of which appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the same day, or the previous day
in some areas.