Burma’s President Thein Sein, Chairman of the Planning Commission, said that his government recognizes political reforms are essential to create development of economic reforms during ‘The third Planning Commission Meeting’ continued for a second day on 27 December at the Government Meeting Hall in the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw.

He said his government has attempted to ensure involvement of all the citizens in the political process. Besides, the government has worked out constantly to promote equal rights for every citizen to enjoy job opportunities in the course of economic reforms. The majority of the population lives in rural constituencies, he said. So, he puts emphasis on rural development and poverty alleviation for socioeconomic development of rural people.

Consequently, President Thein Sein called for uphill struggle to bring the country out of the poverty saying there is no such a heal-all solution in his speech at Nay-Pyi-Taw Council Area Rural Development and Socioeconomic Improvement Meeting held on 19 August, 2013.

President Thein Sein addresses at Nay Pyi Taw Council Area Rural Development and Socioeconomic Improvement Meeting held on 19 August 2013.(Photo: President Office Website)

Farmers consist of about 70 % of population in the country and most of them depend on agricultural sector, the President said. The government gave priority to the agricultural development as it is the requirement for the improvement of the rural area, the President said. He inclined the mechanical crop growing for higher earnings of the farmers. He assured that the cooperative societies would be tasked to ensure better supply chain.

He called on the cooperative societies to give financial support to farmers and also facilitate them for their crops reaching saleable stage. It takes some months to make a crop or paddy cost-effective, he said, stating the need to do two-way farming for extra income in the production period. It would help the farmers lead a favorable life, the President added.

Farmers need funds to run integrated farm and the government knows that its provision of K 100,000 is not yet sufficient for it. For that reason, farmers are urged to redesign the farmland. They have to build water inflow and drainage channels and have their farmlands registered to use them as security for loans, the President said. 

Now, farmland registration has been carried out in all eight townships in Nay-Pyi-Taw. The registration is the certificate of possession like house grant, enabling farmers to use their farmland as security to ask for bank loans. Therefore, instead of agricultural subsidies, enough bank loans will be provided systematically for farming purpose, the New Light of Myanmar said.

For that reason, in cooperation with private businessmen agriculture produce cooperative societies must be established in villages of 500 to 1000 acres of farmland. These societies would be able to buy farming tools with local and foreign loans and assistance and provide planting, harvesting and threshing service to farmers.

According to the state-run newspapers, President said that the initial capital would be provided to each cooperative society from eight townships in Nay-Pyi-Taw Council Area at the ceremony. A loan of K 720.67 million would be provided as capital and agricultural machinery worth K 128.245 would also be facilitated to the cooperative societies by the Ministry of Coperatives, the President said.

The purpose of disbursing loans is part of eight rural development and poverty alleviation tasks being initiated by the Ministry of Cooperatives, he said. Despite prospects for economic development, Myanmar still has high poverty rate, he added.

However, after five decades of military rule, some of the hardest political stumbling blocks remain, as well as a military that still seizes the country’s mainstream industries and financial system.

Under military dictatorship for decades, Burma has become known as a natural gas and teak seller and its socioeconomic conditions have gone downhill under the soldiers’ unprofessional management.

The military-monopolized economy leaves most of the citizens especially farmers in poverty, while military leaders and their cronies exploit the country’s abundant natural resources. In 2010-11, state properties, especially real estate, were transferred to relatives of military authorities under the guise of a privatization policy. It created a wider gap between the military-backed privileged first-class and the ordinary population.

The worst situation of land-confiscation by the army is still unresolved. The landless farmers are now calling government for giving back their farmlands. Several protests against unlawful land-confiscation are taking place in many rural areas in Burma.

In fact, natural resources including productive farmyards in ethnic states are unilaterally grabbed by the Burma Army. Burma Army has been captured a great deal of land in every ethnic region through unjust war. As a result, the fighting produced thousands of war refugees and internally displaced populations in various ethnic states.

Hence, the President’s reform stance on Monday seems to be an unwise political stance that provided priority to the agricultural development in eight townships in Nay-Pyi-Taw Council Area instead of war torn ethnic rustic areas. He should seriously think about the miseries of the ethnic people in many war zones who even have no makeshift shed or food supplies.

As a reformist, he should give priority to that trouble ethnic population in support of humanitarian assistance. It will be helpful to make a successful national reconciliation as well.