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Myanmar junta running out of time, nearly 3 years after coup — Radio Free Asia

In his televised New Year’s address to the country, Myanmar’s junta leader Min Aung Hlaing vowed to prioritize economic growth in 2024, apportioning all the blame for the country’s sharp economic contraction on the opposition his coup ousted almost three years ago. Min Aung Hlaing made no mention of the military’s setbacks since the Three Brotherhood Alliance of ethnic armies in northern Myanmar launched their offensive on October 27, 2023. And while the losses, which include over 30 towns and the surrender of over 3,000 troops are real, the continued economic crisis remains the junta’s single largest vulnerability.

The economy has shrunk by 10-12 percent since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup that deposed the National League For Democracy-led government. In a recent report, the World Bank predicted the country would only see 1% growth in 2024, given the “broad-based slowdown across productive sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, and trade.” Over half the population is living beneath the poverty line, while the World Bank found that 40% of surveyed families saw a decline in income in 2023 compared to 2022. The kyat currency has lost half of its value since the coup and it now appears that the State Administrative Council (SAC), as the junta is formally known, has given up any hope of controlling it.

In early December 2023, the Central Bank of Myanmar announced that it would no longer fix the exchange rate, allowing the currency to trade at market prices. This was a tacit acknowledgement that the gap between the official rate of 2,100 kyat per U.S. dollar and the black market rate of 3,500 kyat per greenback was too large to ignore, and that the regime no longer had foreign exchange reserves to prop up the declining kyat.

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