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THE NATION: Whether as capitalists


      Whether as capitalists or
      socialists the generals

      AFTER seizing power in 1962, Gen Ne Win
      changed the economic and political
      policies of the government to the so-called
      ''Burmese Way to Socialism'' which meant
      the nationalisation of major industries,
      schools, rice mills, small and large
      businesses, and financial institutions.
      Nationalisation meant monopolising the
      economy under the central control of the
      then military regime called the
      ''Revolutionary Council''. 

      Twenty-five years later, the result of
      nationalisation is that Burma has been
      lowered to the level of Least Developed
      Country. On the other hand the generals
      have become wealthier and wealthier. 

      After the 8-8-88 uprising, Gen Saw Maung
      took power and changed the name of the
      government to the State Law and Order
      Restoration Council (Slorc). The Burmese
      military junta began another change to an
      ''Open-Door'' programme of economic

      Privatisation was introduced in some
      sectors. But there was no fair competitive
      drive to reduce costs, raise quality or boost
      innovation. Privatisation means a transfer
      of the organisation of production from the
      public sector to the private sector. But this
      didn't happen in Burma. 

      At present only a few rich people have the
      privilege to invest their savings in shares.
      The majority of innocent, poor Burmese
      people cannot. 

      Khun Sa, Lo Sig Han and his companions
      have made a lot of money from the drugs
      trade. So the privatisation is not benefiting
      ordinary Burmese people. Senior military
      men and their group, and Khun Sa and his
      companions get more and more benefits.
      Because many industries are under
      monopoly control people have to buy from
      them whether they like it or not. 

      Whether they are carrying out a
      nationalisation or privatisation programme,
      the military is always in some kind of unity
      with the opium producers. And also prices
      for consumer products continue to
      increase. When will they be content with
      their ill-gotten gains? 

      Thet Oo 

      Federation of Trade Unions-Burma