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Myanmar: Nowhere To Go But Up

Here’s what the U.S. Commerce Department said about corruption in Myanmar in a 2012 publication called ‘Doing Business in Burma’ (Burma is the old name for the country).

It’s a bleak assessment:

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Corruption is endemic in Burma. Many economists and businesspeople consider corruption the most serious barrier to investment and commerce in Burma. Due to a complex and capricious regulatory environment and extremely low government salaries, rent-seeking activities are ubiquitous. From the smallest transactions to the largest, little can be accomplished without paying bribes.

In its 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International rated Burma third worst in the world (after North Korea and Somalia).

Since 1948, corruption is officially a crime that can carry a jail term. However, in the past, Burma’s former ruling generals applied the anti-corruption statute only when they wanted to take action against a rival or an official who has become an embarrassment. Under the nominally civilian government which was inaugurated in March 2011, President Thein Sein has declared the government’s intention to crack down on corruption, but few concrete measures have yet been taken.

In 2006, authorities arrested over 300 Customs officials, charging them with corruption, and during 2011 several military officers were investigated and punished for ostensibly corruption-related charges.

Most citizens view corruption as a normal practice and requirement for survival. The major areas where investors run into corruption are when seeking investment permission, in the taxation process, when applying for import and export licenses, and when negotiating land and real estate leases.

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Download ‘Doing Business In Burma’ here (pdf).

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