Concluding thoughts

The survey that informs this chapter reveals that the remittances Burmese migrant workers in Thailand send home are large and, circumstances permitting, could provide the means to accelerate Burma’s economic development. Unfortunately, the survey also reveals that these remittances are employed overwhelmingly in the cause of simple survival, with little in the way of funds left over for investment and other ‘productive’ purposes that would maximise their development impact. Equally, this chapter finds that remittances to Burma are made overwhelmingly via various informal devices, negating the possibility that they could be ‘leveraged up’ via formal financial institutions and minimising the dynamic economic effects they might otherwise trigger. Of course, the fact that Burmese migrant-worker remittances are used for bare survival and that they are channelled in informal ways offers yet another window into Burma’s dire political economy. In its seminal report on the development possibilities of remittances, the OECD (Straubhaar and Vadean 2005:10) noted that ‘the best way to maximise the impact of remittances on economic growth…is to implement sound macroeconomic policies and policies of good governance…a sound banking system, respect for property rights, and an outward-oriented trade and FDI strategy’. In present-day Burma, such attributes are, alas, highly conspicuous by their absence.