COVID-19 second wave drives Myanmar business closures to new record

A record number of businesses in Myanmar were shut amid an ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic as lockdown orders since September hit swathes of the economy, according to an Asia Foundation survey
published this week.

The Foundation interviewed 750 local businesses in different parts of Myanmar between late September and early October, as a follow-up of the first COVID-19 business survey conducted in April and May, when the virus outbreak first
began.A total of 36 percent of businesses surveyed say they are shut in the run-up to the November 8 elections, an 8pc increase from the first study.

The percentage of respondents reporting no sales revenue jumped to 31pc from 22pc in the earlier survey. Nine percent remain closed since May. At the same time, 34pc say they are operational, compared to 24pc in April and May.

Myanmar, now the third most-infected country in Southeast Asia, has recorded 87977 cases and 1887 deaths so far, including 1344 new cases on November 28, a dramatic jump from the 1133 cases on September 4. The virus spread has not
slowed despite lockdown measures being imposed on Yangon, Rakhine and other areas since September.

Corporate executives and manufacturers urged the National League for Democracy-led government to provide time for employers and factories to prepare for shutdown orders following the first outbreak. But the authorities did not appear to have heeded the feedback. The “stay-at-home” order for commercial capital Yangon and its hinterland was issued during the evening of September 20 ahead of a Monday morning deadline on September 21, leaving employers and workers with less than a day to respond.

The Asia Foundation findings show little improvement in sales and profitability from earlier this year, a sign that Myanmar’s economy is in for a rough ride despite predictions of positive growth.An August World Bank report forecasts Myanmar’s GDP to grow by 0.5pc in 2019-20. The forecast is the slowest since the transition from dictatorship to quasi-military rule in 2011 but nonetheless puts Myanmar among the very few economies estimated to grow amid a global recession. The pandemic is expected to affect Myanmar’s economic development across sectors in the long run.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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