Last week, the Revenue Watch Institute released its annual ranking of how well the world's major oil, gas and mining countries govern the extraction of their precious resources. The international non-profit ranked Myanmar, whose extraction industry it dubbed infamously opaque, last among the 58 countries.
The survey ranked the countries in four areas relating to their natural resources: their institutional and legal safeguards; their reporting practices; their safeguards and quality controls, including limiting conflicts of interest and discretionary powers; and accountability measures such as rule of law, corruption and democracy.
Unlike many of the other countries that received low marks, Myanmar is quickly approaching a delicate political crossroads. The exploitation of its natural riches will have a crucial impact on the political transition and peace-building processes that are underway. Responsibly managed, these natural resources have the potential to contribute to significant social and economic development. But Myanmar must manage its own expectations, those of its people and those of foreign investors and governments, by establishing an environment in which the country can harness its natural resources to create sustainable, durable and equitable benefits. Inaction risks exacerbating the conditions of corruption, inequality and disenfranchisement that can fuel violent conflict and potentially derail its transition.
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