Myanmar`s President says country facing hardship

Myanmar`s President Thein Sein says the strengthening local currency is hurting the economy.

Yangon: Myanmar`s President says the strengthening local currency is hurting the economy and garment factories face closure if the US dollar continues to weaken.

The dollar has fallen from 800 kyat to 750 kyat, dealing a blow to Myanmar`s exporters, President Thein Sein said in a speech given on Wednesday to economists, businessmen and local aid organisations in the capital Naypyitaw.

Farmers and garment factories have been the hardest hit with some factories in the industry that employs thousands facing closure, he said in the speech, which was published in state-run newspapers on Thursday.

It was the first time the president publicly acknowledged that the country, which is run by a military-dominated government, faces economic hardship. Average income per person is one of the lowest in the world after years of state control of the economy and international sanctions.

Thein Sein said that to ease the problems, the government has removed export taxes on some items including rice, beans, corn, sesame, rubber, fish and other animal products.

Additional "ways and means are being sought to ease the crises”, he said.

A new government took power from a military junta last March after elections that were widely condemned abroad as rigged to ensure Myanmar`s generals retained their hold over the country. It has embarked on economic reform and slightly eased its hardline stance against opponents.

Thein Sein said the government invites people and organisations with different views to "work with us for common goals in the national interests”. He said the government will also consider Myanmar citizens living abroad who want to return.

The government has invited pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest last November, to an economic development forum scheduled for August 19-21 in Naypyitaw.

Suu Kyi`s spokesman Nyan Win said they have not decided if Suu Kyi will attend.

In another conciliatory gesture, three state-run newspapers stopped running slogans blasting the foreign media on their back pages this week.

Bureau Report

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