Thursday, July 27, 2017

SPA Group tops Web transparency report

Serge Pun and Associates Group climbed eight spots to take top place in this year’s Transparency in Myanmar Enterprise/Pwint Thit Sa report.

The group climbed past U Zaw Zaw’s Max Myanmar Group of Companies and U Aung Ko Win’s KBZ Group of Companies, which finished second and third respectively. Last year, KBZ Group came out on top.

The study compares the websites of 100 of the largest Myanmar companies, scoring them on what they say about corporate governance, business practices, human rights, health safety and the environment.

The report is put together by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB). It only scores public information and is not an actual performance assessment, though aims to encourage increased transparency in local business.

Serge Pun and Associates Group includes subsidiaries such as Yoma Bank, FMI Air and several property developments, according to a separate list by MCRB.

Among the report’s three different sections, KBZ came on top for Anti Corruption Programming, Serge Pun and Associates for Organisational Transparency and Max Myanmar and Shwe Taung Group for Health Safety and Environment, Human Rights and Land.

While most of the top 10 stayed in the top 10, they were in a different order. Most of the top-ranking companies did not slip this year, but rather were surpassed by those that made greater improvements, the report said.

The first report was published last year with the objective to incentivise greater publication of information by Myanmar companies by publicly recognising them for transparency.

“Suspicion about cronyism and corruption continue to cloud the Myanmar business sector,” the 2015 report said.

“It concerns both domestic stakeholders and international stakeholders such as business and governments or international financial institutions who are seeking to invest in, and trade with, Myanmar.”

The report added that transparency, including on the part of business, is essential if ongoing significant economic and political reforms in Myanmar are to be successful and win public trust.

MCRB director Vicky Bowman said Myanmar’s leading large companies demonstrate a commitment to transparency and good corporate governance, seeing it as fundamental to gaining and retaining social licence.

“However, it is disappointing that many large companies still have no websites, or only have marketing sites with little corporate governance information available on them … Although there is not yet a regulatory requirement on large Myanmar companies to report non-financial information, voluntary disclosure will encourage better understanding of and trust in business.”

Ms Bowman also highlighted oil and gas firms SMART, Parami and Myanmar Petroleum Resources Limited as transparency leaders among their peers, adding this is not the case for mining companies, particularly those in jade and in trading.

Some 39 of the 100 surveyed companies have no website and received a score of zero.

Another 40 more have little or no corporate governance and sustainability information online, MCRB said in a press release.