Myanmar Civil Servants Offered COVID-19 Loans

By Aung Thiha 2 September 2020

Yangon — Myanmar’s government will provide two months’ salaries as interest-free loans to civil servants, according to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry.

The move aims to curb the impact of COVID-19 on civil servants, according to director-general Daw Thidar Tun of the Budget Department at the ministry.

“The government has considered all aspects. Like it has provided rice and other basic food to struggling families, it will now assist civil servants,” he said.

Permanent civil servants can apply for the loans. The moratorium is six months and the loans need to be repaid in one year.

Budget offices in regions and states are making lists of loan applicants and are due to send the lists to their headquarters in Naypyitaw by September 11. The headquarters will then seek approval from the Union government to proceed with the plan.

“As they will get two months’ salary in advance, they will be able to spend on commodities and boost businesses,” said Daw Thidar Tun.

A Naypyitaw-based civil servant, who did not want to be named, said: “If we have to pay back the loans, it will be better to lend greater amounts to lower-level staff. Around five months’ salaries would be better for junior staff. The loan scheme is good but staff many will not receive the amount they need to get breathing space.”

The salary for junior staff is just 180,000-190,000 kyats (US$134-142), meaning the loans will be 360,000 kyats ($268) with repayments of 300,000 kyats ($244) per month.

The loan scheme is also part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan. “Civil servants did not get anything when the government provided rice, oil, basic food and cash [to struggling communities]. So two months’ salaries will be a contribution,” said a civil servant at the Internal Revenues Department in Bago.

There are 25 ministries in the central government with around 1.2 million civil servants.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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