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Providing Flexibility for Assistance Provided by International Financial Institutions for Burma

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6431 and yield myself such time as I may consume.

Currently, congressional mandates require that the U.S. representative must vote ``no'' on any proposed assistance going from an international financial institution to Burma. This bill before us today would change that. It would allow the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct our executive directors at the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the IMF to support proposed assistance to Burma, if the President determines that it is in our national interest.

This flexibility will be needed in the coming months. There will likely be some important votes coming up at the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on development projects and arrears clearance packages for Burma. Binding the U.S. representative to always vote ``no'' on such measures would work directly against our hope of engaging Burma and supporting her democratic reforms, and that's why I strongly support this bill.

The economic and political reforms in Burma show great promise. That is why the United States lifted the sanctions on investment in Burma back in July. And the right thing to do now is to support development and economic aid to Burma through the international financial institutions.

Both multilateral development and humanitarian assistance are important now because Burma needs both long-term and short-term results. Her people need to see that a democracy has tangible positive impacts on their everyday lives.

It is not just in the best interests of the Burmese people that they continue to support the democratic and economic reforms in the country; it is in the interest of the United States as well. And I would say that it's in the world's best interest, too.

It was a great honor today to welcome Aung San Suu Kyi to the Capitol. She is a courageous woman of matchless strength and towering integrity.

I congratulate her on receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that we can give anyone, which she so richly deserves. She honors us by her presence and her acceptance of this award.

Her unshakeable conviction that democratic values and fundamental human rights were not only possible but absolutely necessary for Burma provided her country with a model of courage and perseverance that helped to sustain it throughout the most difficult years.

We congratulate her. We thank her. And I want to let her know that she is a very special heroine to me, and that we remain strongly committed to the cause of reform in her country and to supporting not only her country, but her people.

Aung San Suu Kyi has said that aid and investment in Burma must be done in a way that is democracy friendly. She describes that as investments that prioritize transparency, accountability, workers' rights, and environmental sustainability. Aung San Suu Kyi has also said that the government needs to apply internationally recognized standards such as the IMF Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency. I agree with her wholeheartedly on both of these issues.

As the international financial institutions move to reengage in Burma and we move through this piece of legislation in support of that engagement, I urge the administration to use its leadership at the IFIs to ensure that assistance to Burma supports democratic reforms, ensures an open and transparent government, and establishes safeguards that support growth, alleviates poverty, and safeguards the rights of the people.

There is a tide in the affairs of nations that, taken at the flood, can lead to greatness. And this is such a moment of political and economic import for Burma.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill and to continue to support the efforts of the people of Burma towards the establishment of a truly just and democratic society.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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