Burmese President Thein Sein urged members of 14 political parties on Saturday to cooperate with the government to achieve national peace and economic development.
He emphasized the vital role of political parties in stabilizing the political conditions in the country. He said pursuing peace with armed groups was “a very sensitive issue,” according to an article on Saturday in the state-run newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar.
Concerning peace negotiations, Thein Sein said no matter how hard top level members of government try, their efforts often come to nothing once the negotiations reach the practical local, level, causing “a decrease in trust.” He seemed to be referring to negotiations with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which have ground to a halt, with the KIO citing a lack of faith in the government's intentions.
The 14 political parties represented in the meeting with the president included Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Rakhine League for Democracy, National Unity Party, Kayin People's Party, Myanmar New Society Democratic Party, National Democracy Party, National Political Alliance League, Chin Progressive Party, Zomi League for Democracy, Pa-O National League, Diversity and Peace Party, Mon Democracy Party, Modern People's Party and Myanmar National Congress Party.
In a wide ranging review, Thein Sein said the government had made peace with 10 out of 11 ethnic armed groups, achieving clear progress, but agreement has not been reached with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Kachin State, which said it had lost trust in the government’s actions. Both sides of been engaged in military clashes since June 2011.
The state-run newspaper failed to give any reports by the views of the representatives of the poitical parties who took part in the meeting. Earlier reports said that members planned to bring up the new media law which is now in Parliament and to call for full freedom of speech and the press, in addition to their views on achieving long-term ethnic peace.
Thein Sein called for more efforts in creating jobs, citing the country’s poverty rate at 26 per cent, forcing about three million of its citizens to work overseas for survival.
He stressed the need for foreign investment, and said that arrangements have been made to systematically use foreign grants and loans in projects that would benefit the people, citing the building of small and medium industries, heavy industries and hi-tech industries and telecommunications with the aim of adding value to the products of the country.
Thein Sein asked for advice on ways to create a sufficient power supply instead of launching protests, calling for more state funds to be spent to build basic infrastructure projects.
Citing the current per capital income of around US$ 800, he pointed out that despite being rich in natural resources, the country is ranked at the bottom of the list of per capital income in the Asean nations and even lower than neighboring Bangladesh.
The government wants a per capital income of about $ 3,000 if possible, and the five-year plan is aimed at increasing 7.7 percent GDP within five years, he said.
He called for stepping up efforts 1.3 times to reach the goal.
“If we want to reach the GDP up to 3,000 U.S. dollars, the country must boost efforts three times higher than the present efforts,” he said.
To realize this, he said he wants grants and low-interest loans and investment from foreign countries to flow into the country and Western nations to remove sanctions and the European Union to accept imports and to allow Burma to re-apply the tax exemption system.
Thein Sein's civilian government took office in March 2011, and the government has been carrying out major reforms both politically and economically.
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