Foreigners to Get Daily Access to Accounts

By May Kha 13 March 2013

RANGOON — Burma’s Central Bank has decided to allow foreigners to withdraw cash from their foreign-currency accounts on every working day, according to local bankers.

The new move will assist foreigners residing in Burma, who were previously limited to two withdrawals of up to US $10,000 per week.

“It’s true that we have been instructed to authorize disbursements to foreigners of up to  $10,000 a day on every office day,” confirmed Than Zaw, the chairman of the privately owned Ayeyawady Bank.

He said foreigners who want to open bank accounts in Burma are divided into two groups: investors and people working in the country. Each must follow a different set of rules, he said.

To open a current account for doing investment, a company owned by a foreigner must submit a letter of recommendation from the Myanmar Investment Commission as well as company documents and the account holder’s passport. The minimum deposit is $1,000.

In the case of people working in Burma, applicants must submit letters of recommendation from their embassy and employer, a copy of their passport, and documents to show where  their money came from. The minimum deposit is $100.

Than Zaw also said that in both cases, banks only accept deposits in foreign currencies and use the same for disbursements.

An official from a foreign company, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Irrawaddy that according to the Central Bank’s regulations, foreigners cannot withdraw more than $10,000 a day but larger amounts can be negotiated for emergency needs.

Non-Burmese nationals were previously only allowed to open accounts at three state-owned banks, but since last June, they have been able to open accounts at 15 private banks. However, foreigners still can’t open savings accounts, because they are not entitled to earn interest on deposits, said the foreign company official.