Narinjara news



Taka by No Choice!

Taka by No Choice!

Maungdaw: Sep 27: Beginning mid-August the unofficial exchange rate for the Burmese currency kyat, dropped at least 17% against the US dollar and other regional currencies. At the rate of 18 (going up to 20) to the Bangladesh taka, the nosediving kyat has set off a price spiral and uneasy market in Rakhine (Arakan) state, in the western part of Burma, sources and a company director said.

“As day go by, the life of the common people is becoming miserable with starvation visible everywhere,” a private banker from Maungdaw, a town on the Naaf River bordering Bangladesh said, “The traditional role of Arakan state as rice exporter to Bangladesh has changed. Now a large number of the people of the border areas have to depend upon the rice smuggled from Bangladesh.”
Many blame the situation to the ruling Burmese SPDC junta’s suicidal approach of exporting rice from the state for its cash-starved coiffure disregarding the demand for rice at home. Exports of rice increased last year by over 273% compared to the fiscal year 2000-1, for a total of 939,100 tons, according to official estimate.

Systematic neglect by successive Burmese junta since 1962 has rendered the state an economic backwater, making the state to heavily rely on smuggled Goods from Bangladesh including medicine, fertilizer, fuel oil, soaps, cooking oil and articles of clothing. Though there is a brisk trade and commerce under an official trade agreement between Bangladesh and Burma, smuggling has remained the preferred and ubiquitous mode of trade as ever, said a businessman.

The illegal smuggling, carried under active tutelage of the Burmese junta officials, has made hundreds of thousands of people of the state economically dependent upon the illegal trade with Bangladesh. Agriculture produce including rice, pulses, onions, chilli, peanuts, shrimp, fish and cattle are regularly smuggled out of the state. Other smuggled items include Chinese electronics and electrical products and hand tools.

The volatile kyat, unpredictable due to inflation and the threat of intermittent demonetization, has made people along the border areas in western Burma to stash Bangladeshi taka.

“Even junta officials including the Nasaka border security forces officials take bribe in taka or US dollar,” a local trader said, “they refuse to accept the kyat.”

There is no estimate of how much taka or dollar is circulated this way in Burma. But for now there is no other choice than using the taka as legal tender in the western front.

What a long shadow the practise will cast over the economy of the country may not be very difficult to guess. #