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How and Why the Myanmar Government Should Publish Petroleum and Mining Contracts

Key messages:

  • Contract disclosure is a growing global norm. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board agreed to require all member governments to disclose the contracts they sign with oil, gas and mining companies beginning in January 2021. Around the world governments, companies and civil society are increasingly advocating for disclosure.
  • In Myanmar, progress has been extremely slow. Despite civil society activists and several major investors supporting reforms, the government has not disclosed any petroleum or mining contracts so far.
  • With new licenses expected to be issued in the petroleum, minerals and gemstone sectors, the Myanmar government should act now to keep pace with a global trend.

Contract disclosure in oil, gas and mining is rapidly becoming standard practice around the world. Over half of EITI countries have already published contracts and licenses. The EITI board recently moved to make it a requirement for all implementing countries to publish any contracts and licenses that they grant, enter into or amend from 1 January 2021 onwards. There is a growing recognition among governments, the private sector and civil society organizations that contract disclosure is an important tool for improving governance and creating a stable investment climate.

In Myanmar, there has been little progress on contract transparency to date. The government has not published any of the contracts it has signed with oil, gas or mining companies. However, a growing number of investors in the country are supportive of disclosure. With an uptick in licensing expected in the petroleum, minerals and gemstone sectors, the short to medium term presents an important opportunity for the government to overhaul disclosure requirements and ensure Myanmar keeps pace with a growing global trend.

Section 1 of this briefing explains the benefits of contract disclosure and dispels some of the common myths used to argue against it; Section 2 evaluates current legal requirements and practices in Myanmar; and Section 3 sets out a potential path towards disclosure.

Photo by Matt Grace for NRGI