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Myanmar’s junta is cracking down on gold and foreign exchange traders and agents selling foreign real estate, announcing 35 arrests in the past two days as part of efforts to stabilize its plummeting currency.
State media reported that they included five people accused of illegally selling housing units in Thailand and 14 people arrested for allegedly destabilizing the foreign currency exchange rate.
The kyat hit a record low last week, falling to around 4,500 per dollar on the black market, according to five foreign exchange dealers.
For years, kyat exchange rates on the black market have been well above Myanmar’s central bank’s reference rate, which is currently set at 2,100 kyat to the dollar.
“The government is working towards the stability of the country and the rule of law,” Myanmar’s Global New Light newspaper said on Tuesday, publishing photos of more than a dozen suspects.
“Security organizations have taken action against businessmen engaged in speculation to hinder the economic development of the country,” it said.
Another 21 people were arrested for allegedly destabilizing gold prices, the newspaper reported on Monday.
The impoverished Southeast Asian nation of about 55 million people has been in political and economic turmoil since a 2021 coup, when the military ousted an elected civilian government after a decade of interim democracy and economic reforms.
Myanmar’s economy, already fragile after decades of military rule and a pandemic, has withered since the coup, with foreign investment drying up, exacerbated by Western sanctions.
Poverty rates have almost doubled from 24.8 percent in 2017 to 49.7 percent in 2023, according to the United Nations Development Program.
The National Unity Shadow Government (NUG), made up of former MPs and other junta opponents, said the military government had printed large amounts of money since taking power and increased military spending, exacerbating the country’s economic woes.
A junta spokesman did not respond to a Reuters call seeking comment.
“We understand that they continue to print kyat,” NUG Finance Minister Tin Tun Naing said in an online press conference on Monday.

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