By Nay Chi Thway
The banking sector has been essential to developing social sectors. People keep their money and important documents as well as loan assistance and money transfer on a daily basis at the banks. To be exact, people open bank accounts to save money, take loan assistance to buy cars, homes and phones, and others. Besides, banks are responsible for transferring money from one to another, locally and internationally. At present, there are four government banks and 27 private banks in Myanmar.
Some bank staff from those banks participate in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) campaign as anti-State activists have been inciting them intending to stop the State’s financial machinery. Since early February and banks had to close as the bank staff were continuously forced to join the CDM campaign, protesters had been staging demonstrations around the banks.
The bank staff who were serving their duty at work were humiliated with their photos on social media. It made trouble for the bank staff who were working to make the finance of the people convenient.
While the private banks have been paying their employees, it is heard that the banks are also trying to gather employees to resume banking operations.
It can be said the private banks shut down since 8 February, which affects people’s life primarily. I would like to speak to those who support CDM responsible for the inconvenient lives of the people who keep money in the bank and hold international or local bank cards. These export-import businesses rely on money transfer at the banks’ employees who receive their salary through the bank.
Bank staff who put money in ATMs during the most turbulent time were also condemned for not joining the CDM so that they will be scared to do so again. Moreover, there were rumours circulated to raise public concerns to the highest level that the country has run out of money, and some banknotes will be demonetized again.
Although the Central Bank of Myanmar instructed private banks to reopen in February, only a few branches could reopen. Although banks such as Myawady Bank opened their branches to support financial operations while many private banks were shut down, inciters continuously took all their money.
Because the people are worried, they are taking all of their money from every opening bank. However, it is not necessary for them due to the mismatch between the services that can be provided. The people, banks are also in the struggle to resume operation.
Exporters are not able to withdraw or transfer payment when banks are closed, which could also affect the ability to control commodity prices, hurting all import-export business and domestic products. Only the people will suffer from this consequence. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, people have lived with lower income and economic downturn, following the banks’ shutdown make the situation worse.
Banks are financial intermediaries, accepting deposits and lending money back to the people. Banks are the most fundamental part of the financial system and the key player in the financial market. We rely on banks to withdraw money from our deposit, check the balance of our accounts, and draw salary every month. We should be aware of the fact that the country’s economy can be affected when the business of the people who received bank loans are in crisis and when the cash flow has become difficult.
Although there are mobile and electronic payment systems, most people cannot use them yet. If the banks did not resume regular operation, we would face the weak usage of cash on living and healthcare. Since the banks are the crucial parts of the State, we hope the resumption of banking operations to normal.
It is not the current government but the people who have deposit, money transfer, and loan assistance at most private banks. We, the public, have suffered from the consequence of the banks’ shutdown. No citizen can stand the long-term difficulties to withdraw his or her own money from the bank. I wish people find out those who are inciting from behind and report to the responsible persons so that they can be taken legal action. I specially invited the bank staff to return to work and serve the people as soon as possible.