The grassroots are struggling to survive the sudden rise in commodity prices

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – August 24 Scenes

MoeMaKa, August 25, 2023

The grassroots are struggling to survive the sudden rise in commodity prices


Due to the sudden rise in foreign currency rates and the prices of daily food products in recent weeks, the daily wages for those who live in the country have decreased by 40 percent, and it is becoming difficult to even have a meal every day.


With the rise in rice prices for daily meals, even the slightly better-quality Manaw Thukha rice from the Ngasein group has become 5,000 kyats per pyi. The price of edible oil, which is the cheapest used in cooking, has risen to 12,000–13,000 kyat per viss, and the prices of meat and fish are also rising. In this situation, the price of medicines taken if you get sick or regularly for your health also goes up depending on the exchange rate.


Again, due to the increase in fuel prices, the cost of transportation has risen significantly, and the lives of day laborers, workers with no side income, and wage workers in factories in Myanmar have become as if their income has vaporized by 40 percent, even within a month or two.


A bowl of Mohinga is sold for 1,400–1,500 kyats, and a cup of tea is over 1,000 kyats, so it is no longer possible for someone who earns just over 100,000 kyats a month to go to the teashop and drink tea in the morning. Also, as the price of edible oil has risen, they can no longer eat fried rice and have to eat plain rice alone without tossing with oil, as one of the employees complained.


Because the cost of fuel for a motorcycle to work has gone up, even a motorcycle has to be ridden on a budget, and people are living with worries that their motorcycle would be stolen even if it is parked somewhere and sometimes on the road after being beaten up. Every day, we hear about taking cars, phones, and money from the taxi driver, and motorcycles from traveling civilians after killing or beating them.


There have been many kinds of motorcycle stops on the road reported in recent months as people can’t afford to ride and travel with their own motorcycles. A person said that although he understands people’s struggles like he does, he dares not pick them up because of the increasing number of crimes.


There are more and more people who are unable to reach the position of being able to eat properly in their daily lives and to be able to enjoy the cheapest basic health services during illnesses. The implications of the upcoming 20,000 kyat issuance and freezing of business bank accounts related to Myanmar by Singapore’s UOB Bank, which follows US sanctions of Myanmar military junta-owned foreign banks, thinking that the banks that linked with the junta’s bank will be blocked, have arisen concerns in business export and import issues, and we can see in the news reports that there are also impacts on the fuel import business and other businesses.


There is also a general view that economic chaos under military council rule could be beneficial to the revolution. The mismanagement of the military council and the spending on military expenses are indeed factors that cause inflation. In such circumstances, further sanctions aimed at the purchase of international military weapons and jet fuel will further push the depreciation of the kyat and increase commodity prices, making it more difficult for the local grassroots to survive.


On the other hand, for the revolutionary forces, which are mainly dependent on donations from the public, there is a possibility that the public’s economic difficulties will affect the contribution of funds for the revolution. It is necessary for the political leaders to consider whether the current economic crisis will give more support to the political upheaval, or whether we may encounter situations such as famines or robberies due to survival difficulties that are difficult to maintain.