Lack of army food could lead to corruption

Apr 29, 2009 (DVB), A new system that gives lower-ranking army soldiers a weekly allowance equivalent to around eight cups of rice could cause an exodus from the army and deepen corruption among troops, said a military analyst.

The new system was introduced last month by the defence ministry in place of weekly food rations. The weekly allowance will be 800 kyat (US80¢).

"Privates are no longer allowed ration quotas such as beans, condensed milk cans and other dried groceries," said a military source who asked to remain anonymous.

He said this new system would make the privates' life more difficult as they were already struggling for survival on a meagre salary of around 30,000 kyat (US$30) a month.

Yet the move could backfire, said a Burmese military analyst with Thailand-based Network for Democracy and Development.

"This could end up with a mass-resignation of soldiers in the Tatmadaw [army] and also could drive the rest of them to deeper level of corruption where they start to use their arms to bully and steal things from people," said Htay Aung.

"These soldiers are the people who have to go to the frontlines and risk their lives and I don't see how they would manage to fulfill their duties properly if they are now even given enough food for them and their families to survive on," he added.

According to Burmese government military statistics, the head of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, Senior General Than Shwe, who is also chief of the armed forces, is paid 1.2 million kyat per year.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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