19 May 2021, Sittwe
With more than 100 days having passed since the military coup on February 1, DMG spoke to civil society and political leaders, activists and businesspeople about the toll that the new reality under Tatmadaw rule has taken on an Arakan State economy already badly bruised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
U Pe Than || Former Lower House MP || Myebon Township
After the military coup the whole country, including Arakan State, was hit economically. Commodities in Arakan State have doubled in price due to poor transportation and commodity flows. As a result, the people’s livelihoods have become more difficult and the flow of goods has been weakened.
The economy is in crisis for all classes of people. The economic situation in Arakan State is at its worst, with no businesses operating and no production from the beginning.
The military coup in the current budget year for regional development has made it impossible to redistribute Revised Estimate (RE) budgets, which will begin in April. The question is what percentage will be available in the coming budget years.
The government can no longer carry out development work and previously allocated about 160 billion kyats for Arakan State. It is unknown at this time how much the budget will provide, and the situation is far from over. I think the military regime can only continue with the unfinished development work and will not be able to carry out new development projects for Arakan State. The military coup has taken a toll on all sides and nothing is good.
Saw San Nyein Thu || Chairperson || Rakhine Women’s Initiative Organization
The situation in Arakan State is one of the most lagging in terms of political and regional development. In this situation, the coronavirus pandemic spread to Myanmar amid plans to prioritise development tasks, and before the military took power.
The Arakanese people are facing more economic difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the other hand, in a situation where wars are still going on, it is even more difficult to undertake development tasks. In the meantime, after the military coup, the Arakanese people are facing more difficulties. The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic hardships for the Arakanese people. Now commodity prices are skyrocketing because of trade barriers. Trade is difficult and the Arakanese people are in crisis.
U Tin Aung Oo || Chairperson || Arakan State Chamber of Commerce and Industry
People across the country are suffering from high commodity prices. Arakan State is not the only place where commodity prices are rising. All in all, on a nationwide scale, prices are rising. Rising commodity prices are making life difficult for people. In the case of construction materials, the prices of all steel rods and cement are much higher. In the case of steel rods, prices have risen by more than 50%.
In terms of work, everything is difficult. In terms of cash flow, there are many difficulties when the current banking system is not functioning properly.
Daw Hnin Moe Hlaing || Owner of a prawn wholesale business
When businesses in Yangon could not operate, our shipments were also affected. In the case of prawn exports to Yangon, the previous price was 24,000 kyats per viss, but now it is only 11,000 kyats per viss.
From the very beginning, all the people in Arakan State were affected by the coronavirus epidemic and armed conflict. The Arakanese people cannot go out and work, so it is more difficult and they do not have enough to live on. As the price of everything went up, everything became difficult. I want the government to make the best of this situation, as it could be difficult in the future.
U Khaing Kaung San || Director || Wan Lark Foundation
Commodity prices have risen significantly since the military coup. For the people, the price of a bottle of cooking oil used to be 1,700 kyats, but now it is more than 2,000 kyats. People are suffering from high commodity prices. It is not easy for people to withdraw money deposited in banks. Civil society organisations and international organisations working for regional development are suffering from a lack of cash flow. In the case of investment, the inflow of money to the states, especially the people, is affected by the lack of investment on the mainland.
Economically, there is inflation in the economy as Arakan State is a poor state. As commodity prices rise, Arakan State is hit hard by inflation.
Despite the military coup, there were no riots or protests in Arakan State. However, the military coup has repercussions across the country.