Myanmar Junta Makes Fuel Suppliers Sell Supplies Amid Shortage Fears

By The Irrawaddy 20 April 2022

Amid long queues for fuel in Myanmar’s cities on Tuesday, the junta-controlled Ministry of Commerce forced suppliers to sell their stocks at fixed prices.

Long queues were reported at filling stations in Yangon this week with customers limited to 20,000 to 30,000 kyats worth of fuel.

In response, the ministry held an online meeting on Tuesday where it told suppliers to sell all remaining stocks at fixed prices.

“We have sold all the remaining stocks at the prices set by the regime. At the meeting, the ministry told us to phone our gas stations and sell at fixed prices,” a fuel importer told The Irrawaddy.

“They said they did not want to see queues and delays as they are not good for the country. They said they would sell US dollars and told us not to panic. They told us to bring lower prices and increase the quota,” he added.

Some gas stations, following long queues, said on Facebook on Tuesday that quotas were being removed.

Meanwhile, suppliers are struggling to import because of the regime’s restrictions on the use of US dollars.

Earlier this month, the regime-controlled Central Bank of Myanmar ordered that foreign exchange earned by citizens be converted into kyats at the inflated official rate of 1,850 kyats per dollar within one working day.

The regime also required importers to seek its approval to use US dollars for every shipment. Fuel imports halted as the regime has not handled the paperwork because of the Thingyan holidays. Stocks are now running low, said fuel distributors.

The ministry summoned distributors to another meeting on Wednesday.

Some importers that purchased fuel at high prices before the regime fixed the exchange rate are suffering losses, said industry insiders.

A taxi driver from Yangon told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday: “Almost every gas station that is still open is selling by quota. It takes about two hours to get fuel. Many gas stations have closed.”

Fuel prices have increased by around 300 kyats per liter since Monday.

The junta-controlled Ministry of Electricity and Energy denied rumors on social media that fuel stocks are running low in Thilawa, the national fuel warehouse.

The ministry claimed the country still has 45 million gallons of petrol and 70 million gallons of diesel in stock and two tankers have arrived in Yangon but are yet to be emptied because of Thingyan.

Myanmar imports around 6 million tons of fuel annually, mainly from Singapore and Malaysia, according to the commerce ministry.

Many gas stations in Yangon and Mandalay were closed on Wednesday, according to residents.

Long queues formed in Yangon, Mandalay and Sittwe in Rakhine State, with quotas still enforced, residents said.

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