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On Myanmar, IMF Won't Assess Reversion to Repression, Kachin Not Considered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 7 -- When the International Monetary Fund's Meral Karasulu took questions about the IMF's work in and assessment of Myanmar on Monday night, one expected military rule and fighting in the ethnic zones to be a topic.

  But amid the IMF's rosy view, pitching for example natural gas reserves, the world's major wire services focused on exchange rates, natural gas and, in the case of AFP, the Paris Club creditors getting paid back their money.

  Inner City Press asked Meral Karasulu two questions: how likely does the IMF think that a reversion to military rules, and did the IMF even consider the continued conflict in Kachin state in its assessment?

Meral Karasulu politely dodged the first question, saying that the IMF has no "comparative advantage in political analysis," even that it would be "inappropriate" to consider the risk of reversion.

  But as reported exclusively last week by Inner City Press, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Myanmar he thanked and welcomed a company specializing in surveillance technology, including to Gaddafi's Libya, click here for that story.

  Meral Karasulu emphasized the Myanmar's main economic activity is not in the ethnic areas.

  Asked where Myanmar's reserves actually are, Meral Karasulu said in three state owned banks controlled by the Ministry of Finance.

When she was asked what percentage of Myanmar's budget is devoted to the military she said she did not know. (Perhaps relatedly, on Sri Lanka where the IMF does have a lending program, it downplays the growth of military spending even after the scorched earth military compaign of 2009).

Of corruption in Myanmar, Meral Karasulu said she has "no anecdotes," and that during country visits the IMF can't see it. Meral Karasulu will return to Myanmar in the second half of May. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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