Yangon – The February 2021 coup, which culminated in driving many international corporations and businesses out of the country, sending an unprecedented dive in the value of Myanmar’s currency – Kyat and plunging into a civil war, has driven up the soaring prices of basic commodities such as food and fuel.
The recent Russia – Ukraine crisis has, to some extent, shaken up the food and fuel prices in Myanmar these days, although the country’s economy has been already weakened by the global pandemic and worsened by the military coup.
Many ethnic areas from Chin in the west, Kachin in the north and Kayah and Karen in the east are struggling to receive food supply as large swathes of land, mostly ethnic territories, are closed for travel due to the military junta’s constant operation.
So, a year after the Myanmar military staged a coup, oil and food prices have skyrocketed in war-torn Myanmar.
People in the country’s largest city are required to stand in a queue to buy just a cooking oil at Nyaung Pin Lay market in Yangon. The shop owner has a handwritten poster that says, “If you have bought a viss of cooking oil, please do not come back for today as it is only sold a viss per customer,”
The price of cooking oil paid Kyat – 1115 per viss before the coup is now selling above Kyats -5000, which is equivalent to USD 4.5.
In the western Chin State, fuel price has hit an all-time high reaching up to 2430 per litre, equivalent to USD $2 at current black-market value.
In Yangon, prior to the coup, fuel price was recorded at Kyat – 850 per liter, but now it exceeds Kyat – 2,000 per litre, a resident in North Dagon Township told us. He continued to say that the price has never been stable but has been skyrocketing ever since.
The United Nations Food Agency warned in March 2021 that the rising food and fuel prices resulting from the political unrest caused by the military coup is troubling for the most vulnerable people who are living meal-to-meal.
Steep spikes in food, fuel, and other basic commodities are widely reported across the country from Kachin to the country’s southern region – Taningtharyi.
Half a million have been internally displaced, and around 50,000 have become refugees in neighbouring countries, mostly in India and Thailand.
“Most indicators suggest that private investment has fallen markedly, and previously viable projects are becoming unviable as demand remains weak, the cost of imports has risen, and kyat-denominated revenues are worth less in foreign currency terms,” said World Bank Senior Economist for Myanmar Kim Edwards. “In addition, lost months of education, together with large increases in unemployment and displacement, will substantially reduce human capital, skills and productive capacity over the longer term.”