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Myanmar Shop Owners Are Being Jailed For Giving A Raise To Their Employees. Here’s Why

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Myanmar Shop Owners Are Being Jailed For Giving A Raise To Their Employees. Here's Why

Critics say it is a desperate attempt to control the narrative around the country’s economic collapse

Several business owners in Mynamnar have been arrested for giving their employees a raise amidst the country’s soaring inflation. One of at least 10 arrested business owners is Pyae Phyo Zaw, whose three mobile phone shops were shut down by military government’s soldiers he increased his workers’ pay. He was also charged with inciting public unrest, according to a report by the New York Times

A sign posted outside one of his shops declared that it was shut down due to “disrupting the peace and order of the community.”

A legal expert explained that there is no prohibition on wage increases in the country. However, wage increases are seen as undermining the regime by making people believe that inflation is rising. They all potentially face three years of imprisonment.

One of Mr Zaw’s employees anonymously said, ”We were very grateful for the salary increase, but now the shop is closed and I don’t get paid. Ordinary people like us are suffering from high prices, almost to the point of despair.”

Critics have said it is a desperate attempt to control the narrative around the country’s economic collapse as it experiences soaring inflation, the Bangkok Post reported. 

”Arresting shop owners because of the increase in prices is not following any law. In Myanmar, the law exists only in name, so from a legal standpoint, everything the junta is doing is absurd,” said human rights lawyer U Kyee Myint. 

Notably, the military’s takeover in a coup in 2021 and the subsequent popular uprising against its authority have plunged the country into an economic crisis, reversing the progress made during a decade of quasi-democratic governance.

According to a World Bank report, Myanmar’s economic output has shrunk by 9 per cent since 2019, and poverty has soared to levels not seen for nearly a decade. A third of the population now lives below the poverty line.

“Myanmar’s economy post-2021 has moved on from the crisis, journeyed through chaos, and now arrives at what is surely its near collapse as a formally functioning, developing entity,” Australian economist Sean Turnell told the NY Times. 



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