Friday, January 14, 2011

No bias in privatisation please: NUP

Friday, 14 January 2011 21:57 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The National Unity Party (NUP) said that there should be no bias in the privatisation of state-owned enterprises that has been going on during the past year or more, and that it supports privitisation in principle.

Party leader Han Shwe told Mizzima: ‘Privatisation should be for the development of the country and should avoid giving benefits to people who have close relations with the authorities concerned’.

During the past year, many business observers have accused the junta of handing over lucrative businesses under state control to businessmen closely associated with key ruling generals.

The NUP has inherited the political legacy of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) which once nationalised private businesses. However, the NUP now supports a market economy and agrees with the privatisation of state-owned, said Han Shwe.

The party also accepts the policy of state regulation in certain areas of business and intervention in the market economy, he said.

The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, issued a statement on January 4, saying the junta’s policy of privatization encourages monopolies within the economy controlled by selected elite groups and business cronies.

The statement also said that because of the unequal distribution of wealth in the country, most ordinary citizens face the difficulties of rising commodity prices and lower employment opportunities.

MP-elect Khin Shwe of the Union Solidarity Development Party, who is closely associated with key ruling generals, said that the privatisation of state owned-enterprises is long overdue and the government should run the country based on revenues and taxes collected.

“The economic policy must be changed and the state should encourage and promote the private sector’, he said. He said a fuctioning private sector creates more job opportunities and competition in an economy and promotes more efficiency.

“Previously, the state ran all big businesses no matter what, in terms of profit or losses. But the private sector cannot run in the red. Each private business must try to survive and make a profit. In this way there will be more job opportunities for workers’, he said.

A confidential cable sent by the US Embassy in Rangoon in July 2009 to US State Department officials, and which was released by Wikileaks, said that Burmese state-owned enterprises had been in the red for five years in a row.

In the Economic Freedom Index for 2011, Burma ranked 174 in a total of 179 countries, according to the US-based Heritage Foundation website.

The late dictator Ne Win established the BSPP in 1962 and nationalised private businesses the next year. The nationwide uprising in 1988 led to the dissolution of the party, which was later reorganised and registered as the NUP.

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