Running on fumes: Fuel importers denounce new forex policy

As Myanmar’s military leaders relaxed with family members in Pyin Oo Lwin and Nay Pyi Taw for this year’s water festival in April, a crisis was slowly building in the waters off Yangon.

Oil tankers from Singapore were bobbing in the Gulf of Mottama, refusing to enter Yangon River to unload the petrol and diesel needed to keep the economy running.

Two weeks earlier, the regime had introduced new foreign currency rules that required banks to change deposits into kyat within 24 hours, and fixed the exchange rate at K1,850 to the dollar, below the market rate of K2,000.

The generals had also mandated that outbound bank transfers – for example, to pay for fuel imports – would require pre-approval from a new Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee, led by Lieutenant-General Moe Myint Tun. 

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