The appearance of a 17-month-old memo by business and industry leaders in Burma suggesting an end to government fuel subsidies is being interpreted in some circles as an attempt by the regime to redirect anger over recent sharp price increases.

According to the internal memo, obtained by The Irrawaddy, the advisory group of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry has suggested that, along with taxation, increasing the price of oil and electricity could boost government income.

A paper dated April 4, 2006-soon after the Burmese government announced a ten-fold increase of its workers’ salaries-is signed by Sein Win Hlaing, general secretary of UMFCCI.

The confidential memo suggests that fuel subsidies could be ended and prices increased to their real market level. “If the price of oil increases to the market price, it could not hurt the stability of the market,” the memo says.

Skeptics are asking why the memo has appeared at this time. one commentator, Sein Htay, a Burmese economist living in exile, told the BBC’s Burmese service: “The military leaders know that people are angry and fuming. With the distribution of this paper, they hope to change the direction of people’s anger.”