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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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