Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Strange world of post-Nargis numbers revisited: after PONJA

In a previous post we highlighted the extremely odd nature of the loss and damage estimates from cyclone Nargis paraded before the world by the SPDC in Rangoon on 25 May. The UN and ASEAN have now been able to carry out the so-called Post Nargis Joint Assessment exercise and report on the results.

The PONJA team derived their estimates from findings in sampled village tract areas. They lay out their sampling methodology explicitly in their report. By contrast the SPDC report at the Pledging Conference contained no such methodological cues; indeed the specious precision of the counts of lost lampposts etc strongly conveyed the impression that the losses etc had been comprehensively *counted* rather than estimated from samples.

As we noted, not only did the claimed figures lack credibility but the extremely haphazard approach taken to the exchange rate used to convert kyat to $US alone accounted for an inflation of the sought relief budget of the order of US$15om. The results of the PONJA exercise reveal even more disturbing discrepancies in the SPDC's request for funds, as outlined in this table.

The table shows for a selection of categories the loss and damage estimates (in kyat) from both the SPDC Pledging Conference presentation and the PONJA report. In each case the differences are represented by a ratio (SPDC estimate/Ponja estimate) and difference (SPDC-PONJA). The latter is also shown converted into millions of $US using the PONJA preferred exchange rate of 1100K/$. The total net discrepancy is shown at the bottom.

The first thing to notice is the staggering discrepancy in private housing in which SPDC claimed close to $US 4.5 billion over what PONJA estimated to be the true loss and damage arising from Nargis! Industry also contributes a hefty $US 555m to the total discrepancy which in total checks in at over $US 5 billion or 50% of the total damage claimed by SPDC in the Pledging Conference Report.

The discrepancies in health and education are small and negative respectively. However it should be noted that in our previous post we noted that the exchange rate manipulations were particularly egregious for these categories. Use of exchange rates of only 1/5-1/4 of those used elsewhere contributed to an overclaim of $US 34m for health and $US 111.5m for education, the latter more than enough to cancel out the effect of PONJA's higher estimate of damage in kyat terms.

A final point worth noting is that while the SPDC report presented parallel estimates of loss and damage for the 'public' and private sectors, the PONJA report has virtually no estimates of damage to 'publicly' owned buildings, firms etc. No doubt they considered whatever information they received on 'public' losses to be too unreliable (not surprising given the prima facie implausibilities we identified) to even include in the report. A fitting comment on the SPDC and, in tandem with the pecuniary distortions of their loss-estimating, another sign of the insanity of the idea of increasing the flow of international financial resources into their hands.


Burmese said...

Never in history had a woman done so little and gained so much publicity and fame; it just shows how powerful the Western media is. The truth is she cannot quit now. She did not lift a finger when Burmese people were suffering immensely under the thug ShuMaung, with nom de guerre of NeWin. There had been thousands of democracy activists, true leaders of democracy, men, women and minors, who were imprisoned, tortured, mained and killed. Yet the English neocolonialist media completely ignored them;worse, the British govt of the time was so hypocritical, for the late thug ShuMaung was welcome to UK and allowed to buy property in London. He had a house in Wimbledon. Burmese people are like children, so innocent, honest and gullible. They did not know that SuuKyi had married an Englishman and became MRS. MICHAEL ARIS. How could she have done that? AungSan fought the British for independence, and he paid with his life. After colonising Burma,IN 1886, English coloniser started drawing boundaries within the unitary kingdom of Burma to instill divide-and-rule, marginalising the Burmans and favouring the so-called ethnic minorities. They let in Christian missionaries, particularly Baptists to christianise atheist Karens. Most of the Karens are Buddhist. About a third became Christians and their allegiance changed to the coloniser English. In 1947, English sympathisers of the karens who fought on the side of the British against the Japanese engineered the massacre of the cabinet of AungSan. He and his brother U BaWin were two of the 8 who were assassinated, with the help of English. Burmese never know the truth. They love AungSan, absolutely adored him, quite deservedly. It is unbeleivable that considering what the former enemy state, England ,did to her father she married an Englsihman. it was sheer treason. Her late father AungSan must be truning in his grave. Her brother AungSanOo immediately disowned her. Since then they had been estranged. In 1988, SuuKyi wnet to Burma to care for her terminally ill mother Daw KhinKyi; he refused to lead the students when they asked her to lead. Only when she saw hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against the then BSPP regime, carrying AungSan's picture, she jumped on the bandwagon of democracy; sheer opportunist! English media got into top gear to promote her, assisted by her godmother Lady Gore Booth,an arch imperialist. Then SuuKyi, Mrs. Aris, got Nobel Prize. For what? Exactly. Burmese, who had no understanding of the machination of the English to promote 'their woman', who was literally under an Englishman, to recolonise Burma by proxy. No wonder the military was so stubborn about releasing her. Americans and Europeans do not know or understand true Burmese history. In fact AungSanOo should have been chosen, in which event Burma would have gained freedom and democracy a long time ago. He had been maligned and his political career was nipped in the bud. He did M.Sc in electrical Engineering at Imperial College, London. Later he went to America to work. he wanted to overthrow the BSPP regime after his MSc degree in 1971. But he was not allowed to become a lecturer at the Rangoon Institute of Technology. What a tragedy for Burma. He arrived in Burma a few days later after his sister SuuKyi. If only he was the first to arrive, history would have been very different. Later, MR. ARIS aka AungSanSuuKyi asked Western governments to impose sanctions on Burma. Many ordinary Burmese lost their livelihood. She is waiting for power. It will be an ultimate insult to Burmese honour. THE WORLD HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE TRUTH, WHICH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION.

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