Food, Fuel Prices Soar In Myanmar As Coup Exacerbates Covid-19 Crisis
By Staff, Agencies
The UN World Food Program [WFP] warned of a “very serious” economic crisis in Myanmar in the wake of last month’s coup, with food and fuel prices rising amid the political turmoil.
The retail price of palm oil had risen 20% since the start of February around the main city, Yangon, said the WFP, while rice prices there and in Mandalay had gone up 4% in the past three weeks alone.
In a few townships in Kachin state, such as Bhamo and Putao, the price of rice had increased by up to 35%.
The cost of fuel has risen 15% countrywide since 1 February, while in northern Rakhine, the price of petrol has increased by 33%.
“If the situation protracts, I think, increasingly, the economic side of this crisis is going to be a very serious one,” said Stephen Anderson, the WFP representative for Myanmar.
“Many people are already reeling from the impact of Covid-19. There had already been, before this political crisis, factory closures and many of the poorest had lost their jobs due to lockdowns in their neighborhoods, and there had been declining remittances from abroad,” said Anderson.
Prior to the pandemic, six out of 10 households could not afford a nutritious diet. Poverty rose further as a result of Covid-19, and by the second half of last year four out of five households across Myanmar reported they had lost close to 50% of their income during the pandemic.
The military’s seizure of power has led to even greater economic turmoil. Huge numbers of workers are not going to work as part of a civil disobedience movement opposing the coup.
The army has responded with deadly violence and intimidation, prompting many more to stay home because it is too dangerous to go outside. Key sectors, such as banking and transportation, have been pushed to the brink.