Coup chaos leaves employers fretting over paying staff in Myanmar

WION Web Team
Naypyitaw Published: Feb 25, 2021, 07.46 PM(IST)

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on February 22, 2021 Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Myanmar's kyat currency is depreciating, businesses are paralysed and banks are in disarray, and for all the support for street protests and strikes against the junta, the disruption is nudging the economy closer to a breakdown

The day the military seized power in Myanmar three weeks ago, Phyu delved into her company's emergency funds and gave her staff a one-month advance on their salaries. 

Phyu, who runs a market research firm, saw trouble ahead then, but isn’t sure how she'll pay her three staff next month. Ahead of payday on Friday, the first since the February 1 coup, a cloud is hanging over Myanmar's fragile economy. 

Its kyat currency is depreciating, businesses are paralysed and banks are in disarray, and for all the support for street protests and strikes against the junta, the disruption is nudging the economy closer to a breakdown. 

Also Read: After coup, Japan mulls halting new assistance projects to Myanmar

"I predicted things could get worse so I paid them their salary in advance on that day," said Phyu, who declined to provide her full name. 

"I'm now thinking how to do March salaries if things continue to go this way or get worse. In the worst scenario, I can still pay them in cash." 

Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied for weeks across Myanmar, in a groundswell of anger at the military's overthrow of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, its curbs on the internet and the arrest of hundreds of activists. 

The anti-coup movement's calls for people not to go to work has caused big disruption, holding up crucial processes like import and export permits, salary payments and bank transfers. 

Also Read: Pro-military supporters clash with protesters in Myanmar's Yangon

Myanmar relies overwhelmingly on imports for its fuel, but supplies are running low, industry sources say, with some oil import terminals no longer operating. 

Its nascent garment manufacturing sector, a key source of income for rural families, faces disruption in raw materials imports and the export of clothing, including orders from major western brands. 

Some businesses have already been forced to slash wages. 

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