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Pwint Thit Sa 2020 to assess donations, reflect strengthened regulation

Myanmar’s leading corporate transparency report this year will assess company donations and reflect the country’s strengthened regulations, said the report’s authors.

Yangon-based Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), in partnership with Yever, a Myanmar business consultancy, initiated the research phase of the 2020 report on Transparency in Myanmar Enterprises, also known as Pwint Thit Sa.

The report – designed to encourage digital transparency by Myanmar businesses – will cover disclosure of the same four types of information as the last one: corporate profile, corporate governance, sustainability management and reporting.

At least 270 company websites will be assessed, including all five firms listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange, all local banks, major state firms, 175+ privately-owned Myanmar companies which are either in the top 100 income or commercial tax payers and some other influential companies. It will also cover 64 “public companies” – firms whose shares can be bought by the public – with more than 100 shareholders, which are therefore legally required to disclose their corporate information.

This is the first time all banks are included in Pwint Thit Sa separate from any associated companies or conglomerates, reflecting the higher standard of corporate governance required of banks in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government has over the last few years increased requirements placed on listed and public companies and banks to strengthen their governance and disclosure. These are set out under the 2017 Companies Law and the notification related to Continuous Disclosure issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar.

The 2019 assessment reveals that public companies lag behind privately-owned firms in corporate disclosure and governance.

The Central Bank of Myanmar last year issued a number of directives under the Financial Institutions Law relating to corporate governance of banks. These include bank director criteria, requirements that all directors must be approved by the CBM, the need for at least one independent non-executive director and a qualified external auditor.

“This year, we will be distinguishing between those companies that have to disclose this information, by law, and family-owned companies who choose to do so because of their commitment to corporate governance,” said Nicolas Delange of Yever.

“We will also be checking the new MyCo database to see whether their website disclosure, for example on directors, is consistent with what they have reported to DICA,” he continued, referring to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

Notably, MCRB and Yever have added a criterion on governance of company philanthropy and donations.

Company donations became a hot topic after the August 2019 UN Fact-Finding Mission Report, said MCRB director Vicky Bowman, including for potential business partners of Myanmar firms who were concerned about business integrity risk.

U Thant Sin Lwin, DICA chief, recently clarified that the government does not oblige the private sector to make philanthropic donations when doing business in Myanmar.

Firms who are taking policies and their disclosure seriously will be differentiated from those who are only paying lip service in the report, added Mr Delange.

The assessment is broadly based on global and regional frameworks such as the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard which is being used in Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, and the Integrated Reporting Framework.

A draft assessment will be sent to firms before Thingyan, giving them the opportunity to enhance disclosure in advance of the final deadline in July.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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