Central Bank says all domestic payments must be in kyat

Photo: Isriya Paireepairit /  CC BY-NC 2.0
Photo: Isriya Paireepairit / CC BY-NC 2.0

To alleviate the dollar crunch caused by international sanctions, the central bank said yesterday that all payments in Myanmar should be made in the national currency.

Instead of foreign currency, Central Bank Deputy Gov. Win Thaw said kyats must be used for all government-related and private sector payments.

“Starting with ministries, each has to take responsibility first,” he told reporters. “Besides, there are bars and pubs, hotels that all businesses licensed by us nationwide must follow.”

The central bank’s said in a Wednesday statement that the use of foreign currency to pay for goods and services has led to an increase an overreliance on its use and demand.

In April, the central bank announced that foreign exchange earnings of local residents would be exchanged for Myanmar kyats within one day of opening a foreign currency account at foreign exchange-traded banks, with some exceptions. 

The central bank said in a statement that souvenir shops, hotels, restaurants, and international schools have opened in Myanmar and foreigners are paying rent in foreign currencies. 

Therefore, since an April 3 central bank announcement, relevant ministries and agencies have been required to make domestic payments in kyats, including divisional and state governments in Naypyidaw, Yangon, and Mandalay.

Junta demands dollars be changed for kyats – or else

On Wednesday, the National Unity Government responded by announcing it was working on NUG Pay, a financial service to launch by next June, according to the shadow deputy minister of finance and investment.

The NUG Pay application, would be made more user-friendly and has been in development since November. They expect to make it available for Android with an iOS version to follow.

NUG Pay application users must first purchase a code via NUG Pay service agents for MMK10,000 (US$5.40). It will also be able to use support programs such as NUG treasury bonds.

Users can also transfer money between each other, though only kyats will be usable at launch.

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