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Myanmar/ Burma economic development for all?

Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Main Blog | 0 comments

Myanmar/ Burma economic development for all?

With the two large projects such as the Thilawa Special Economic Zone with three private Japanese companies – Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo, and the $214 million Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project it is understandable that Advocacy groups are speaking out about rights in the new period of democracy in Myanmar. This is an old country with customs, values that have eroded. With modernization and new economic growth comes new social dislocations as well as a lack of sustenance that was once a way of life such as farming.
Apart from Environmental reviews and certifications and social considerations that look at diverse impacts on indigenous peoples, there must be government accountability for economic improvement for those who are at the bottom of Muanmar’s financial structure. The promise of jobs and trade is exciting – but who gets and who gets left out is a major concern. Looking at the five area of an individual and community life; we must investigate and implement  finances (jobs), health and social services, social and community engagement, housing, and education becomes available to those whose land, livelihood and homes get displaced as well as to the current unemployed/underemployed. Everyone in Myanmar needs to be lifted up and encouraged. Those who are ill and who cannot work must also be part of this new beginning.

Workers in Burma generally receive wages ranging from 300 to 1000 Burmese Kyat a day – 1.15 US dollars a day. Workers only receive this wage if they complete 100% attendance which means seven days a week, 30-31 days a month, public employees are paid a minimum of Kyat 50,000 (US$56.8) per month, whilst day laborers are required to be compensated at least Kyat 2000 (US$2.3) per day of labor. A new law that grants workers the right to unionize and stage protests took effect on March 9, 2012 See more at: http://www.aseanbriefing.com/news/2013/04/16/minimum-wage-levels-across-asean.html#sthash.CaBP5BsU.dpuf.
The payment schemes does not allow those at the bottom to benefit from this new economic growth when elected members seem to be speaking more about development and less about education and job growth.

Daw Aung San Su Kyi voiced her fears around unemployment at World Economic Forum (WEF) in Naypyidaw and called for job creation. Her view that foreign investment can create jobs is not new. Growth helps to create jobs. With education come higher paid and better jobs. Trade schools and universities must be upgraded. In the Burma I left, all children went to school. University and hospitals were there for all. Schooling must be reinstated with new schools and new books. Women need to be able to feed, educated and clothe their children; not a new idea but one that new wealth in Myanmar must be a commitment to. As well, it is important to educate the country around the rule of law, reading and writing, and social responsibility. With new investments, foreign countries in Myanmar must be reminded that a higher standard of living must be made a propriety while they extract resources of this rich country.
Democracy is only a word if we do not attach to it physical, mental and social health. In the developed countries we know how some are left behind living in poverty and violence. Myanmar can take a different path as it develops using Buddhist principles for including others, sharing resources, stopping ethnic wars and developing a non violent society. The developed countries missed this opportunity  with capitalism and greed.

Merle Jacobs

From Rangoon to London then to Canada, now home. Professor at York U in Toronto. Equity Studies.

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