BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – Myanmar has set up the country’s first panel to fight corruption and bribery in the public sector, said an announcement released Wednesday from the office of Myanmar President Thein Sein.
The nine-member committee, headed by a vice president, is an effort towards “good governance and clean government after the new government took office,” the announcement said.
Myanmar’s reformist government, which took power in March 2011 after five decades of military rule, surprised observers by freeing hundreds of dissidents, loosening restrictions on the political opposition and abolishing pre-publication censorship – reforms that led to an easing of Western sanctions.
The government also expressed its intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to regulate an industry that has so far been opaque.
Other efforts to become more transparent and accountable include the drafting of an anti-corruption law, a presidential call on state officials to repay embezzled funds and the Ministry of Home Affairs asking citizens to report instances of bribery and corruption.
These unprecedented reforms had no impact on Myanmar’s standing in Transparency International’s latest index on corruption in the public sector, however, with the impoverished Southeast Asian country scoring better than only Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan and Sudan.
The watchdog group told TrustLaw that a continuation of reforms and consistent political will are needed to improve its score in 2013.