More financial investigations in Myanmar

Investigative Journalism Training

13 April 2020

The participants of the 2019 fall training by Global Ground Media worked on their investigations for several months. They published stories about education, the tender process, microfinance issues and corruption.

The participating media organisations were Myanmar NOW, Irrawaddy, Mawkun Magazine, Frontier Myanmar and The Voice Daily. Please check out some of the stories developed during the training below.

Broken dreams: the closure of the president’s scholarship programme

Summary: Hundreds of students were left disappointed when the National League for Democracy government shut down a multi-million-dollar international scholarship programme set up to great fanfare in 2014.

Eaint Thet Su at Frontier Myanmar, started with a general interest in the education system in Myanmar. It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon a scholarships programme which was discontinued without proper explanation.

Helping or hurting: Touted as answer to poverty, microloans trap many in debt

Summary: Nearly 200 microlenders now offer low-interest loans to Myanmar’s poor, but many leave borrowers with crushing debt. 

Chan Tar, Myanmar Now, investigated over-indebtedness in the microfinance sector. After booming in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, Myanmar is a new important market for Microfinance Institutes. But just like in India and Cambodia, there are now cases where loans drive people deeper into poverty instead of lifting them up.

Is Yangon Region Government Corrupt?

Summary: Possible fraud and corruption at Yangon City Development Committee discussed in Parliament. Up to 500 million Myanmar kyat is missing.

Aung Thiha at Irrawaddy published the article using tools and techniques learned from the training. He specifically analysed the budget of the Yangon City Development Committee.

Electricity Mismanagement that Public has to Pay

Summary: One of the Ministries is wasting about three times more than the cost 120 billion kyats of buying the medicine for all the government hospitals from all over the country. This department is the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. Pyithu Hluttaw records show that the amount of electricity wasted […] increased up to 350 billion Myanmar kyats a year.

Kyaw Zeya, Mawkun Magazine, investigates “missing electricity” noted in the budget of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. The article was the cover story of the Burmese print edition of Mawkun Magazine in February 2020. Kyaw Zeya also used data visualisation approaches discussed during the training.

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