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deeper recession

[u3]. If the National League for Democracy (NLD) ruled the power

ruled the power

[u10]. The basic wage is yet to be termed.

wages to be termed

[u14]. The situation will worsen if the running private enterprises fall.

Running private enterprises fall

Presidential economic adviser's open letter to

U Nay Htun Naing
Dear U Nay Tun Naing,
Subject: Open Letter on your article titled Would Myanmar plunge deeper into recession?
published in Eleven Newsmedia Myanmar, dated 1 April 2015.
Please refer to the above article written by you. I believe that an investigative media to review,
monitor, assess, and to point out shortcomings and deficiencies in the formulation and
implementation of governments policies and plans are crucial to achieve the declared intent for
Myanmar to become a modern industrialized democratic nation.
A responsible and an investigative media has played an important role in many countries, both
developed and developing, in exposing misconduct as well as in serving as a watchman to ensure
the government is doing its work and fulfilling commitments and promises made to its people.
The media has not always acted in a responsible manner, and like everything else in this world, it
is not perfect. Nevertheless, its power to limit misconduct and improper behaviour on the part of
public and private officials should not be underestimated.
I have reviewed your article in this spirit. I find that you must have devoted a lot of time and
effort in its preparation. I have no doubt that you have written the article with good intentions
and that you sincerely want to protect the people of Myanmar from the serious consequences of
the country plunging into a deeper recession as expressed in the English text, and collapse of
the economy as it appears in the Burmese text.
I also note with considerable interest that you have declared jihad on President U Thein Sein, his
government, his advisers, the Hluttaw and the opposition. Among these, U Thein Seins
government and his advisers received special mention. For instance, you have pointed out that:

If the Myanmar economy collapses in 2015, President Thein Sein and his government are the
first to blame. The second most responsible people are the presidential advisors.
In going through your article I get a feeling that you think the country will be better off if the U
Thein Seins government and its advisers are removed from office. Speaking for myself and on
behalf of my four fellow economic advisers, if you think we are ineffective and should be
removed, especially in thinking about make-up of the next administration, I would be interested
if you could give me five names that meet your expectation of who you consider will be good
economic advisers.
Finally, I notice that your article has two parts. The first part is devoted to reproducing data and
observations from recent press releases and reports from international organizations and
government ministries to indicate that the countrys economy is near collapse and will soon go
down the drain if the President and his advisers continue to sit idly by and do not take remedial
In the second part you have made observations and presented a set of remedial measures to save
the countrys economy from going under. I have taken careful note of both parts of your article. I
think you have raised important issues and have made good points. Unfortunately, the good
points you have made are not likely to have the desired impact they deserve because the quality
of your article in terms of journalistic merit, command of the English language and knowledge of
the subject matter of economics are far below local standards.
Hence, I have reviewed both parts of your article and have made specific suggestions on how
you may wish to improve your presentation and quality of economic analysis to benefit the
members of the next administration and its five economic advisers that you may suggest to bring
on-board to replace us.
My comments on your measures relating to remedial action are given below. There are 18
comments. They are labeled [u1] to [u18]. The exact words, phrases and sentences you have used
are in italics and are underlined. My comments follow these underlined texts.
My comments on the first part of your article dealing with facts, figures ideas and reports
concerning the present state of the Myanmar economy and which according to you is on the
brink of collapse, will be sent to you in due course in the form of an open letter.
Comments on U Nay Tun Naings observations and recommended remedial action
1. Comment [u1]. The opposition has the duty to alarm the government: I believe the main aim
of an opposition is to defeat the regime in power through free and fair elections. I have difficulty
in understanding what is meant by an oppositions duty to alarm the government. Please
explain. I hope it does not mean that an opposition has duty to overthrow the government by
inciting violence, civil disobedience and social unrest. These will have tragic consequences on
the people of Myanmar.

2. Comment [u2]. Sitting back and watching the government's mistakes is not enough to solve
the country's problems: As we all know, it is obvious sitting back and watching mistakes do not
solve anything. So saying something obvious in different words to create an impression of being
provocative, wise and smart does not add anything to an argument. It is called a tautology.
3. Comment [u3]. If the National League for Democracy (NLD) ruled the power: The meaning
of NLD ruled the power is not clear. It will be desirable to redraft this statement. Ask your
editors to do it for you.
4. Comment [u4]. It is true that the NLD have only a few seats in the Parliament, but its
representatives should not spend all their time in human right affairs: I dont believe NLD
representatives spend all their time with human right affairs. I suggest you check the local and
international mass media on this.
5. Comment [u5]. The government and the Parliament have raised the salaries, but the lower
levels have faced a tighter situation due to the increasing expenditures along with the salary
raise: A decision was made to raise salaries of public servants beginning on 1 April. These public
servants will get the pay increase at the end of April. Hence, it is too early to rush to judgment on
this matter. Why not wait a few weeks to make your case based on more up-to-date and reliable
information and data.
6. Comment [u6]. Weakening kyat makes the import expenses high; the private trading sector is
damaged: A weakening kyat makes imports dearer and exports cheaper. More expensive imports
reduces a countrys imports while cheaper exports increases a countrys exports. Falling imports
and rising exports do not necessarily damage a countrys foreign trade sector.
7. Comment [u7]. The construction sector begins to collapse and the owners are likely to get
hurt: Another tautology. If construction sector collapses its owners will definitely get hurt. Not
only owners but many others will get hurt. These include poor unskilled labourers who work on
construction sites; carpenters and bricklayers; producers of construction materials such as
cement, lumber, bricks, etc.; shops that sell construction materials; and transport firms that carry
sand, pebbles, cement, bricks, lumber, and other construction materials. I hope you realize that
collapse of the construction sector, will not only hurt owners of land and buildings but could
prove to be a major disaster for the whole country.
8. Comment [u8]. Meanwhile, the labours have presented a wide set of basic needs: It seems to
me that labours do not present a wide set of basic needs, whatever that means. Instead, labourers
especially poor labourers require basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) to survive. But for our
poor people I think we should provide them not only with basic needs but also
with conventional needs such as improved health and education, comfortable and affordable
dwelling, pleasant and safe neighbourhood, convenient transport, reliable electric power supply,
safe and adequate water supply, efficient telecommunications system (especially access to hand
phones), and sufficient leisure time to engage in recreational, cultural, religious and civic
activities. So please explain what you mean by labours have presented a wide set of basic

9. Comment [u9]. Business owners are cutting the workers' salaries to make ends meet and this
leads to exploitation: If business owners that cut workers wages to make ends meet result in
exploitation, then if wages are not cut, businesses cant make ends meet and will have to close
down their firms. As business firms are closed down there is no longer exploitation (implied by
your statement), but there are also no jobs and no employment opportunities. This in turn means,
workers will have to choose between exploitation and unemployment. Please clarify how you
reach this conclusion. Please give evidence. I do not believe such a situation exists in present day
10. Comment [u10]. The basic wage is yet to be termed: The statement wages to be termed
makes no sense. Please clarify.
11. Comment [u11]. Workers staged protests demanding a new salary rate Ks 1,000 ($1) a day:
It is doubtful workers in Myanmar at present will be protesting for a salary rate of Ks1,000 per
day. Last week I met a rice farmer from a village called Paung in Mon state near the border with
Thailand. He told me labour cost in Paung was Ks 3,000 per day last year. Now it is Ks 5,000 per
day. But even at this wage it is very difficult to get labourers for his farm, as whole families from
his and nearby villages have gone across the border. So please tell us where in Myanmar are
workers protesting to get a new salary rate of Ks 1,000 per day.
12. Comment [u12]. Imports should be trimmed down in times of kyat depreciation: As shown in
comment [u6] above, a kyat depreciation will lead to a fall in imports and there may not be need
for trimming as suggested.
13. Comment [u13]. Import of deluxe automobiles should be limited, and raising the tax rates
over luxury goods can be another alternative: This proposed measure is internally inconsistent
and will be self defeating. It will not be very helpful if imported luxury goods like deluxe cars
are restricted and at the same time taxes on luxury items are increased. The increase in tax rate
with a decline in the volume of goods to be taxed, is not likely to increase tax revenue.
14. Comment [u14]. The situation will worsen if the running private enterprises fall: Running
private enterprises fall is poor English and poorly drafted. Suggest redraft.
15. Comment [u15]. Myanmar's poverty rate is not declining yet and the 26 per cent of the
population still living in economic deficiency. The country ranks 150 among 187 countries,
according to the UN's human development index: The poverty rate of 26% in 2010 for Myanmar
is result of the Integrated Household Living Conditions Assessment (IHLCA) nation-wide
survey. That poverty rate has nothing much to do with UNDPs Human Development Index.
16. Comment [u16]. The possibility of economic failure and social gap are making the Myanmar
people suffocate: People of Myanmar will suffocate when economic failure and social gap result
in depletion of air that we breathe in the country. Not to worry. This is not likely to happen in the
foreseeable future.
17. Comment [u17]. The President Thein Sein and his advisors, the government, the Parliament
and the opposition cannot sit back and enjoy the situation anymore: As far as I am aware,

President U Thein Sein, his advisors, the government, Hluttaw and the opposition are not sitting
back and enjoying the situation at present. Please rest assured, trying to recover from fifty years
of mismanagement and systematic destruction of the countrys institutions, there is no soft
landing and none of us are sitting around and enjoying ourselves.
18. Comment [u18]. The economic depression would lead Myanmar to a crisis in 2015:
Recession, depression, economic collapse and economic failure are used interchangeably in the
article. It will be helpful if you could tell us how you go about defining, recession, depression,
and economic collapse in Myanmar.
1President U Thein Seins Chief Economic Adviser.