Talk is rife that the Myanmar government may award a debt moratorium to flood-affected farmers, while all parties in the country including the private sector and civil organisations are called on to lend a hand in reviving the economy.
“We need to observe how the floods affect Myanmar’s economy. We systematically need to go ahead with the recovery process. We need proper management of the budget allocated by the government, donations from the private sector, international assistance and loans. So we warmly welcome civil society’s input,” said Zaw Oo, a presidential economic adviser and special coordinator for the National Natural Disaster Management Committee (NNDMC).
He was among key influential figures attending a “Disaster Recovery Forum” on Tuesday, which was attended by government officials and private-sector representatives.
Zaw Oo noted that while a debt moratorium for farmers was necessary, the government had initiated the resettlement and rehabilitation process with support from the international community and local non-governmental organisations.
Twelve of the country’s 14 regions were severely affected by floods during June and July. More than 1.6 million people were affected, while 344,000 hectares of rice fields were inundated. Rakhine state suffered the most, followed by the Ayeyarwady, Bago and Sagaing regions and Chin state. Fears of food shortages and price rises are widespread.
Stressing the need for a farmer debt moratorium, Ye Min Aung, president of the Myanmar Rice Federation, said the association was assisting with the sale of cheap rice to affected areas. So far, more than 400,000 rice bags had been sold, mostly to Rakhine state.
He noted that the private sector’s help was necessary given that the rehabilitation should cost about 80 billion to 120 billion kyat (Bt2.25 billion to Bt3.4 billion).
Other help could come from the Myanmar Livestock Federation. Its representative, Hla Hla Thein, said that later this year or early next, there would be a study on how to utilise rice and paddy in devastated areas to produce animal food.
Vice President Nyan Tun, chairman of the NNDMC, said the government had set some rehabilitation targets for both three months and six months. The recovery plan should be in line with the national comprehensive development plan and the national framework on economic and social reforms, he said.
Focus is placed mainly on immediate relief measures, resource mobilisation, and resilient and sustainable recovery. The government will focus on such important issues as economic vulnerability, human assets, inclusive growth, and a caring society, in order to build disaster-resilient communities.
Wai Phyo, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and president of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA), expressed readiness to help in the process.
“We need to encourage, educate, and empower young entrepreneurs to start businesses and become productive members of society. We need to facilitate and create social enterprises that will help flood victims,” he said.
Wai Phyo said the MYEA mainly focused on rehabilitation of livelihoods, health, education, and job creation. The association will hold bar camps, hackathon, business model canvas, and investment pitch events.