Myanmar’s information minister says the country is set to reopen. However, the economy is expected to shrink by 18 per cent this year. Meanwhile, clashes with the anti-coup opposition and shelling of religious buildings continue.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s military junta is hoping that the reopening the country’s borders and rebooting the tourist sector will encourage foreign businesses and investors to return.
The local economy has been reeling from the pandemic, a crisis made worse by the 1 February coup. To remedy the situation, Information Minister Maung Maun Ohn announced that his government is planning to reopen the country’s land borders with Thailand and China in January and resume international commercial flights in the first quarter of 2022.
The military regime expects Russia, China and Indian private groups to be eager to invest in the country, citing the seeming recovery of the kyat, the local currency, against the dollar.
“In recent months we have received substantial foreign interest in investments and business opportunities,” Maung Ohn said in an interview.
“The resumption of air travel will be an important catalyst for tourism, the return of foreign investments and international business activities," he added.
However, many analysts are less optimistic, noting that Myanmar's economy is in tatters due to high inflation, lack of money and rising food prices.
The Asian Development Bank expects the economy to contract by 18.4 per cent, one of the worst performances in the history of the former Burma.
Meanwhile, thanks to pressure from the international community, US journalist Daniel Fenster was released yesterday.
Since the coup that overthrew the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi (recently indicted with new allegations of electoral fraud), more than 7,000 people have been arrested and more than 1,200 killed.
The casualties also include religious buildings, which continue to be the target of military attacks. Last week, army artillery hit the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Pekhon, a city in Shan state, where a nunnery was shelled three days earlier.
No casualties were reported, but fighting between military and ethnic militias in this region have intensified since the start of the month. According to local residents, at least 10,000 people have fled the city due to violence.