The content in this page ("2010 elections will leave people of Burma in the dark" by Shwe Gas Movement) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

2010 elections will leave people of Burma in the dark

Despite the Burmese military regime’s claims that the entire country will enjoy electricity after the 2010 election, its national power development plans, set to be rubberstamped by its incoming proxy government, spell otherwise. The vast majority of the country’s natural resources are destined for export, not for nationwide electrification.

Burma's current power production capacity is only 2,848 megawatts and nearly 80 % of the Burmese population are living without electricity, with electricity consumption rates per capita under 5% of Thailand and China. Despite this, the regime has already signed contracts to sell off most of its remaining energy resources to investors from these and other neighbouring countries.

Instead of using Burma’s natural gas assets to boost domestic energy production, the regime has been selling off gas from the Yedana and Yetagun gasfields to Thailand, earning over US$5 billion since 1998. Its plans to export gas from the Shwe gasfields to China will earn it a further estimated US$29 billion over the next 30 years . Yet these revenues are not spent for public good.

Up to 90% of over 40,000 megawatts to be produced by 48 new hydropower projects currently under planning or construction is slated for export to neighbouring countries, and will bring in further revenues estimated at over US$4 billion dollars a year.

These power projects, as well as coal mining projects, are being implemented solely for short-term profit of investors, and not for the benefit of the people. Not only are local communities receiving no electricity from the projects, but they are also suffering forced displacement, and other serious social and environmental impacts. The 2008 constitution contains no provisions to protect local people against such exploitation of natural resources and no mechanisms for revenue transparency .

We therefore strongly denounce the sham November 7, 2010 elections, which will be used by the regime to legitimize its hold on power and to rubberstamp its lucrative energy deals with neighbouring countries. The regime’s power plans, quite literally, spell darkness for our people. 

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