Myanmar government will consider loan support and easing regulations for retail sector in Myanmar29 มิถุนายน 2563
Myanmar will consider granting loans to retail businesses hard hit by falling demand due to COVID-19, said State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We will re-consider the avenues available to provide assistance to retail businesses,” she said during a video conference on June 23.
In March, the government set up an emergency soft-loan of K100 billion with an interest rate of 1 percent for a term of one year for small businesses in tourism and garment manufacturing affected by the global pandemic. Under its COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) launched in April, the government raised the loan amount to K200 billion- K500 billion, to be disbursed before the end of the year.
But the conditions set by the government for most retailers to qualify for and repay the loans are too onerous, business owners said.
“It is quite difficult for small-scale retail and wholesale small-scale businesses to qualify for the CERP loans due to the requirements and conditions. The State needs to consider easing some of these requirements,” Daw Win Win Tint, managing director of City Mart Holding Company Limited, said during the video conference.
In Myanmar, demand for commodities, clothing and jewellery has declined by about 80 percent and retail businesses have also seen demand decrease by up to 50pc since May, she said.
Daw Win Win Tint added that traditional businesses in the sector can be provided with financial and technological assistance to enable to upscale, upgrade and compete with foreign products entering the market.
Daw Thet Su Htwe, a small business owner, added that it's not easy for small retailers to qualify for the loans as many have only a few assets and are unable to furnish sufficient collateral. She added that most businesses face a lack of manpower to resume operations, as many employees have been laid off during the pandemic.
Food and beverage (F&B) businesses also asked for regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be eased.
“There are regulations that businesses which apply for FDA certificates must have their own premises and fixed assets. These are difficult for small-scale business owners yet without the FDA license they are unable to operate in the market. Such restrictions can be eased during the COVID-19,” said Daw Thet Su Htwe.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi replied that FDA regulations and loan requirements can easily be adjusted. But she added that the quality of locally produced products must equal or exceed that of the goods imported after the adjustments are made.
U Aung Htoo, Deputy Minister of Commerce, said SMEs in Myanmar have difficulties advertising their products and penetrating the market. As such, more trade fairs and online platform to connect retailers and consumers will be conducted post-pandemic.