2008-05-25

Burma after Nargis: $$$ the junta DOES NOT need

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by Neil Godfrey

The Burmese junta has just requested $11.5 billion for rebuilding after Cyclone Nargis.

On a recent Late Night Live interview Sean Turnell, Associate Professor at Macquarie University and co-founder of Burma Economic Watch, presented the following:

  1. The Burmese regime is “flush with funds” at the moment
  2. Over the last 5 years it is earning $150,000,000 US from exports of natural gas to Thailand
  3. It has $4 billion stashed away, none of which goes into the government’s public account
  4. The incoming money is recorded at the official exchange rate which is 200 times undervalued

The Burmese regime is thus deliberately starving the public account of funds

The podcast for this interview, which also includes input from Aung Zaw, an exiled Burmese journalist and editor of The Irrawaddy Magazine; and with Gary Woodward, former ambassador to Burma, is well worth a listen.

Guided by astrology? It also emerges in the LNL interview the possibility that the reason the military junta went ahead with their referendum on the constitution in the midst of the chaos was to follow through on the predictions of their astrologers that that was the most favourable day for it.

The Irrawaddy Magazine is also of special interest, with 2 of its current story headings about cyclone victims being forcibly evicted from their places of refuge and about poorly paid military looting in some of the cyclone areas.

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Neil Godfrey

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  • helpmyanmar
    2008-05-26 17:08:21 GMT+0000 - 17:08 | Permalink

    Some interesting observations. But, I think you need to distinguish between the Burmese people (or Karen people, Rakhine, etc.) and the regime (junta).

    The people starving in the Irrawaddy delta do need money, as they have lost their homes, livelihoods, community support networks, and many family members. Are they likely to get much of a helping hand from the regime? Uh, take a guess…

    That is why people and governments are giving donations and material to private aid agencies and to U.N. agencies (World Food Programme, World Health Org, etc.). The U.N.’s request for aid is in the $200 million range to cover the urgent food, water, shelter and healthcare needs of the people. As of Sunday they so far have collected less than 30% towards that goal.

  • 2008-05-29 03:37:56 GMT+0000 - 03:37 | Permalink

    swampiness says : I absolutely agree with this !

  • 2008-06-19 02:42:24 GMT+0000 - 02:42 | Permalink

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Underhanded
    .

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