Oil firms draw most rights complaints

The oil and gas sector continues to draw the most complaints regarding transparency and human rights practices in Myanmar, according to a survey conducted by business watch groups and released last week.

Some 47 percent of allegations recorded by the report released from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) were addressed at the oil and gas sector, while 19pc of complaints involve finance, banking and insurance, 10pc for insurance, and 8pc for hydropower, the report said.

BHRRC executive director Phil Bloomer said foreign investors are worried about investing in a country with corruption.

“They don’t want to make mistakes with their business,” he said. “Long-term investments take a lot of care before they get started,” he said.

He highlighted transparency as an essential first step to underpin economic reforms.

The organisation tracks allegations that a company has abused human rights, then its researchers contact the company and invite a public response. In Myanmar it receives a response 47pc of the time, compared with a global rate of 70pc.

“The government is going in the right track but there are many steps in this long journey,” said Mr Bloomer. He pointed to minimum wages and land ownership issues as areas requiring work.

Vicky Bowman, director of the MCRB, said local companies could improve transparency concerns by making more use of websites by uploading information.

The organisation found that of 60 prominent local companies, only 34 have websites, but very few of them use websites to report responsible business practices.

Source: Myanmar Times

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