Tuesday, July 28, 2015

UK accountants struggle to audit Myanmar natural resource ministries

Weekly Eleven July 28, 2015

London-based Moore Stephens chartered accountants are facing difficulties collecting data from Myanmar’s ministries, according to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) coordination office.

Moore Stephens is collecting data on the tax revenues of the ministries of energy, mines, finance, national planning and the Office of the Auditor General to assist Myanmar’s bid to join the EITI, an international body that monitors the extraction industries.

Min Zarni Lin from the coordination office said: “The difficulties we face are that the ministries have not compiled figures in a single place. They kept the data on paper rather than on computer, causing another delay. There are thousands of companies in the extractive sector. We have to ask for the facts about each company. One department keeps its records on a company in Myanmar while other departments use English. These are the challenges we are facing now. It was anticipated that the work would take about a month but it overran by at least two weeks.”

As an EITI candidate country, Myanmar has to report the inflow of tax revenues earned from the resources to the EITI secretariat and publicise it. EITI is an international organisation which maintains a standard, assessing the levels of transparency in oil, gas and mineral sectors. A board, consisting of representatives from governments, extractives companies, civil society organisations, institutional investors and international organisation, oversees this standard.

Myanmar has chosen oil, natural gas and mining as priority sectors for the EITI report. It needs to finalise its report by January for submission to the EITI secretariat.

Min Zarni Lin said: “It is too early to say whether it will be ready for the deadline. We should meet it if we make a concerted effort.”

The EITI board accepted Myanmar as a candidate country in Mexico City in 2014.