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Lettre for Burma (No.11)by ASSK
The key to a successful open-market economy
Letter from Burma (No. 11) by Aung San Suu Kyi
A note on economic policy
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
news paper or magazine concerned. Others 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 section
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 fail in prices.
e) Diversification of export goods.
f) Amendments in foreign investment laws with a view to increasing the
volume of investments.
g) Reduction of foreign debts and resumption of aid assistance from abroad.
h) Review and, where necessary, revision or repeal of laws, decrees,
regulations and other restrictions that 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
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 NLD
In "Prospects for Sustainable Growth in Myanmar/ Burma" Dr Dapice
comments that "Economic reform is not simply setting an interest rate or
an 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 direction."
Credibility and confidence are basic to good business and this is what we
have to establish first if we want our policies 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."
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. Business that frame their investment policies
with a view to promotion 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.
(Dr. David Dapice, " Prospects for Sustainable Growth in Myanmar - Burma"
[ A Report to the United Nations Development Program. September 12,
1995], p. 152 I bid. This article is one of a yearlong series of letters,
the Japanese translation of which appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the
same day, as the previous day in some areas.)
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