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Kyat drops 20% and other economic n

 Dow Jones News Service
 Copyright (c) 1997, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

 Wednesday, November 5, 1997

 Econ Monitor/Burma: Imported Commodities Less Affordable

  Imported commodities, such as petrol, are also likely to become less
affordable as the kyat takes a beating.

  On Nov. 1, the blackmarket value of the currency fell to 290 to the U.S.
dollar, from 240.

  The latest fall may appear to be in line with recent trends elsewhere in
Southeast Asia but the kyat's value has in fact been crumbling for a decade.

  This year, however, it has lost value faster than ever. Throughout, the
official exchange rate has barely deviated from an unworldly six to the  dollar.

  Government attempts to modernize and regenerate the economy have been
largely unsuccessful. Manufacturing projects have faltered and foreign
investment in all industries except oil and gas has tailed off.

  The potentially lucrative tourist industry at one stage attracted
considerable investment, primarily from Singapore and other neighbours. But
hotels are now registering occupancy rates as low as 5% - or 10% 'if they
are lucky' - as one Rangoon resident puts it.

  Because of the glut of hotels in Burma and the crisis elsewhere in the
region, many Southeast Asian investors are now pulling out of new projects
in the tourism business.

  The highest-profile about-face came in August when Thailand's Krong Sombat
Co. sold its 49% stake in Yangon Airlines (one of Burma's two private
airlines) to the Myanmar Mayflower Group, a Burmese company.

  So far, the population at large has accepted its fate with almost stoic
forbearance, which is reflected even in Burma's official statistics. The
amount of money spent on 'charity and ceremonials,' or donations to
monasteries and other religious institutions, almost quadrupled over the
period 1986-96.

  As a source in Rangoon puts it, more meritorious deeds are being  carried
out because people 'have become more interested in the next life than in the
present one.'

Xinhua English Newswire
Copyright 1997

Wednesday, November 5, 1997

Myanmar Holds Seminar on Asian Currency Turbulence

   A Myanmar senior official has stressed at a seminar, sponsored by the
Fuji Bank of Japan, that his country would not neglect the current Asian
currency turbulence.

  Speaking at the seminar on current Asian currency issues here Tuesday, Win
Tin, Minister for  Finance and Revenue, said, "While Myanmar is endeavoring
for all round economic development in the transitional period, maintaining
sustained economic growth with macro-economic stability, We can not
disregard this currency turbulence in some Asian countries as they result in
negative impact on the region as a whole at least in the short run."

   He pointed out that the currency destabilization in some countries of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) goes beyond the realm of
economic fundamentals and can be attributed to
ill-intentioned speculators, official paper The New Light of Myanmar
reported today.

  He expressed the hope that Southeast Asian countries will tide over their
currency crisis as they enjoy strong economic fundamentals and success in
maintaining a high degree of savings, high investment
rate and liberal financial policies.

  The current Asian currency turbulence greatly affected the market exchange
rates between Myanmar and foreign currencies.