Tue, November 30, 2021


Myanmar economy badly hit by weakening kyat, rising prices

Yangon - The plunge in the value of the Kyat is causing rising prices and shortages of some products – hurting mostly the poor.

The Kyat has depreciated to Ks1,610 per US dollar from around Ks 1,340-1,475 in February when the coup and unrests began.

The political instability has led to a fall in exports as well as imports, and subsequently weakening the Myanmar currency.

As the dollar value climbed, the costs of fuel, telecommunication equipment, medicine food stuff and other assorted items, mostly imported, have risen. 

"Local products such as rice, oil, salt, pepper, onion, potato have not risen that much not climb much. But all imported products carry higher cost, especially household related goods from Thailand. I don't know whether it's because the Kyat is also depreciating. Anyway, we sell items we get from the wholesale distributor with a little mark-up," said a general goods store owner from Tamwe.

Thingangyun Township's pharmacies also report that there have been price hikes while stocks of some products have run out. 

"Everytime the dollar goes up, so do the medicine costs. Most are the medicines that people generally use. Some companies are not increasing their prices but instead just stopped the sale. Business has been bad, really bad. I see it in most stores," said a pharmacist in Thingangyun Township. 

Myanmar has a wide income gap between the rich and the poor, and the latter is hurt mostly in the uncertain environment. 

As of now, the current price for a bag of rice is at Ks 48,000. In November 2, 2020, a bag of Shwe Bo Paw San rice went up to between Ks 50,000 Ks 58,000. It was a similar situation for Pathein Paw San with rice Ks 38,500 - 41,000 in November 2020 and Ks 36,000 and 38,000 on April 20.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, between October 1 to April 2, 1.131 million tonnes of broken rice and rice were exported to over 30 countries, a drop of about half a million tonnes from the the same period a year before, with a drop of Ks 74,409 million in revenue. 

According to the Myanmar Rice Federation, rice and broken rice are exported the most to China as well as Belgium. Other official figures also suggest that while local general consumer market prices for rice, poultry and such rose very little.

For petrol, the Global Petro Prices Website for Asean nations claim that as of April 19 2021, Myanmar withnessed an increase of 2.90 percent while Thailand posted a rise of  1.80 and Singapore 1.20 percent. Local rates  suggest that while it is not skyrocketing yet, it is climbing steadily. 

Myanmar economy is already hard hit by Covid-19 and further severe impacts of a second wave are not ruled out by local business people. 

Published : April 28, 2021

By : Eleven Media/ANN