This report from Arakan Oil Watch reveals how billions of dollars in revenues from the sale of natural gas have gone unrecorded in Burma’s public accounts and been siphoned off by corrupt military rulers, leaving Burma with some of the worst social indicators in the world.
Natural gas exports are the biggest foreign income earner for Burma, amounting to over US$2 billion in sales per year since 2006. Revenues are set to increase by 60% as new gas exports to China and Thailand begin as early as next year. An additional 41 oil and gas blocks are currently under exploration by various foreign companies.
Despite recent moves by the new government to improve the budgetary process, detailed income and disbursement of oil and gas revenues remain undisclosed. The role of military enterprises in controlling gas revenues is also opaque.
The report calls for the establishment of laws and institutions which will manage oil and gas revenues transparently before further extraction of natural resources by foreign investors. Laws that require impact assessments and the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities are also needed to ensure the protection of rights and the environment.
Arakan Oil Watch is a community-based organisation monitoring oil and gas projects in Burma.