Suu Kyi tells investors to steer clear of Myanmar state oil & gas firm

Aung San Suu Kyi, in a European speech Thursday, said Myanmar's state-owned energy company needs to improve transparency and accountability before foreign investments come in.

Laurent Gillieron/Keystone/AP
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends a news conference during the annual meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, June 14. Suu Kyi said that investment in her country should strengthen its nascent process of democratization.

Myanmar's Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi urged foreign governments not to allow their companies to do joint ventures with the state-owned oil and gas company until it improved transparency and accountability.

Suu Kyi, speaking to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva on Thursday, said: "The Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE)... with which all foreign participation in the energy sector takes place through joint venture arrangements, lacks both transparency and accountability at present."

"The (Myanmar) government needs to apply internationally recognised standards such as the IMF code of good practices on fiscal transparency. Other countries could help by not allowing their own companies to partner MOGE unless it was signed up to such codes," she said.

The hugely popular leader of Myanmar's opposition is on her first visit to Europe in nearly a quarter of a century, fearful until now that if she left Myanmar, the junta whose rule she fought against for two decades would block her return.

A day after the U.N. agency lifted its more than decade-old restrictions on Myanmar in recognition of progress, Suu Kyi told the ILO's annual ministerial conference that foreign direct investment that created jobs should be invited.

"Responsible foreign investment in agro-business could be beneficial with the right precautions taken to protect smallholders," she added.

Suu Kyi, speaking later to a news conference, said that it was impossible to evaluate the merits of Myanmar's oil and gas alliance with China without knowing the terms of the pipeline contracts signed with China's state-owned CNPC.

"A lack of transparency has led to all kind of suspicions and that sets up trouble for the future," she said.

She said: "I would like to see a sound efficient energy policy in Burma."

"The problem with the extractive industries is what you take out of the ground doesn't go back in. Secondly they don't provide as many jobs as some other industries," she said.

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