Myanmar’s junta will exempt foreign companies, embassies and international NGOs from a new directive ordering that foreign currency earned in the country must be exchanged into local money, the central bank said Thursday.
The Southeast Asian nation’s economy has been in chaos since a coup last February, with the military seeking tighter control over scarce foreign cash.
The central bank directive was announced in early April and slammed by foreign chambers of commerce as well as embassies who said it would add to the difficulty of doing business.
It requires money be exchanged within one day of being earned.
On Thursday the bank said foreign companies, embassies and their staff, the United Nations and its employees, international NGOs as well as state-owned and private airlines “would be granted an exemption”.
The local currency, the kyat, has slumped against the dollar since the military plunged the country into turmoil by ousting Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
The central bank has set an exchange rate of 1,850 kyat to the greenback, but on the black market a dollar trades for more than 2,000 kyat.
Rolling power outages in major cities that the junta blames on high gas prices and attacks on infrastructure by anti-coup dissidents have aggravated the misery sparked by the coup.
In January the World Bank forecast growth of just one percent for Myanmar in the year to September 2022.
Investors flocked to the country after the military relaxed its iron grip in 2011, paving the way for democratic reforms and economic liberalisation in the country of more than 50 million people.
But human rights groups have pressed foreign companies to rethink their activities in Myanmar following the coup and a subsequent crackdown which, according to local monitoring groups, has left more than 1,700 people dead.
Energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron, Norway’s Telenor and Japan’s Kirin have all left or announced plans to leave. (AFP)