Myanmar’s military regime is compiling a database of bank accounts for firms operating in Yangon’s industrial zones, in a move apparently aimed at tighter financial regulation.
The regime’s industrial zone supervisory committee ordered factory owners and businesspeople operating in all 29 industrial zones of the commercial capital to submit their bank account information by October 21 to respective industrial management committees.
“They asked for bank account details, perhaps to know which industrialists have accounts with which banks. There is no business that does not have a bank account. We don’t know exactly why they asked for the banking information,” a businessman from Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone told The Irrawaddy.
However, full knowledge of money received and paid out by each industrialist would allow the regime to regulate financial flows, he added.
A garment factory owner from Yangon said: “Banks are meant to make payments for business transactions easier. But it is still not easy to withdraw money [from banks following the coup last year]. So, this latest move will do nothing to solve this crisis.”
Meanwhile, the junta-controlled Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has been freezing online bank accounts belonging to people it suspects of opposing the regime or funding the resistance.
On October 16, the Myanmar Banks Association revealed it was sending real-time reports to the CBM and financial intelligence unit on account holders and banking service users suspected of “financing terrorism and money laundering”.
Yangon industrialists said the regime has now taken a step further to control business.
The move comes as factory owners report a surge in operating costs due to electricity blackouts and fuel price hikes since the coup.
Many garment factories have been forced to suspend operations after a drop in orders. Garment manufacturing was disrupted for the same reason during the COVID-19 pandemic but more factories are affected this time, according to factory sources.
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has been meeting with business owners in cities including Yangon and Mandalay since the last week of September, according to regime media. The purpose of the meetings is reportedly “business development”.