11/18/2020, 12.09
MYANMAR
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Aung San Suu Kyi promises aid to families affected by the Covid-19 emergency

In the first speech after the victory at the polls, the democratic leader tries to assuage discontent and protests. Controversy over welfare program: many denounce the failure to access funding. According to critics, the money went to entrepreneurs or community leaders.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Supporting people who have lost their jobs or have seen their wages or income drop significantly due to the new coronavirus pandemic, is one of the priorities of the Myanmar government.

This is according to democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi just over a week after the victory in the general elections on 8 November last. The executive, which emerged strengthened from the polls, aims to guarantee immediate aid to the categories most in difficulty, trying to extinguish demonstrations of protest and discontent that begin to spread through large sections of the population in the bud.

There has been serious criticism of the assistance and aid program, dedicated to low-income families. Many report late payments or non-payment of the announced amounts. In her first public intervention since the vote, the State Councillor promised the allocation of funds to the neediest and to the categories most affected by the restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.

“This is the fourth time we are providing the cash assistance,” Aung San Suu Kyi said during a speech. “Everything went smoothly during the first, second, and third times, but we have seen mobs and protests during the fourth time. This is unnecessary.” The state counsellor said the government would not leave anyone behind and that it was opening centres where aggrieved citizens could file complaints. “You can calmly file the complaints at these centres and tell us what happened,” Aung San Su Kyi said. “We will resolve issues if qualified citizens have been left out.”

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) w won an absolute majority in the general elections held on 8 November last in Myanmar, confirming the initial predictions that announced a "landslide victory". The Burmese voters, as predicted,  a second chance to the Nobel Laureate to continue on the country's path of democratic reform after decades of military dictatorship and far from being completed.

The victory comes at a complicated time due to the tensions in the areas inhabited by ethnic minorities (Rakhine, Chin, Kachin) and the health (and economic-economic) emergency triggered by Covid-19. From the first case last March, almost 72 thousand infections have been recorded so far - with a peak in mid-August - and more than 1600 victims. The government has adopted several restrictive measures to limit infections, including the interruption of public transport and the obligation to stay at home and favour smart-working, measures that have caused a spike in unemployment, especially in the middle class.

The authorities have prepared a welfare plan equal to $ 23 per family in some areas, reduced to $ 15 per day in decentralized regions. The guaranteed minimum wage in Myanmar - a nation of 54 million - is set at $ 3.70 a day. Four instalments of the assistance plan have been allocated so far, but many complain that they have been excluded from the aid program or have not received the money due.

Some citizens accuse the government of directing cash payments to business owners and friends or acquaintances of leaders or leaders of various communities, while needy families remain on the side-lines. Zaw Htang, presidential spokesman, speaks of "misunderstandings" at the basis of the failure to disburse funds or the lack of complete information, as well as requests made by families who did not have the right to ask for financial assistance.

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