By Nyein Nyein
Over 100 entrepreneurs, along with international organizations, have submitted information about the possible impacts of the spread of the COVID-19 virus on their businesses. Based upon this data, UMFCCI will work with the government to seek to resolve the problems businesses are confronted by, according to a UMFCCI press release dated 28 February.
A coordination meeting was held, with the sponsorship of UMFCCI. The attendees were members of Euro Cham Myanmar, India-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, Thai Chamber of Commerce, German Chamber of Commerce, China enterprises Chamber of Commerce, Korea Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar, Chinese Textile and Garment Association in Myanmar, Korea Garment Association Myanmar (KOGA), the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, Myanmar Industrial Manufacturers Association, Myanmar Fruit Organization, Myanmar Tourism and the officials from the industrial administration teams.
At the meeting, CMP representatives of factories in Myanmar said they need to carry out their operations based upon raw materials imported from China. Currently, raw materials imported from China have been suspended because of the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. So, CMP garments factories and other factories manufacturing products, such as slippers, bags and electronics, are expected to face shortages of raw materials within the next two weeks, or by the end of March.
In order to continue to operate CMP factories through April, workers from most of these factories have begun working eight hours per day, and factories have closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, while paying full salaries.
CMP factories have also planned to reduce labour and shut down factories, due to the expected shortage of raw materials. In this regard, it was noted during the CMP meeting that suspensions or shutdowns can create wage disputes between employers and employees.
Moreover, the Myanmar tourism sector is faced with a similar impact due to the COVID-19 virus causing a reduction in foreign visitors, with China providing the largest number of visitors. The decline in tourist arrivals in Myanmar has significantly decreased the incomes of hotels, restaurants, transportation businesses and resorts. Tourist arrivals via airports has declined 53 per cent, and air transport has also declined 60 per cent, according to tourism officials participating in the meeting.
In response to these issues, the UMFCCI issued a 10-point statement on Covid-19. These include, 1. to call on the government to deal with the rights of the unemployed from the shutdown or suspended factories and businesses, as described in the 2012 Social Security Law for workers from factories; 2. to calculate compensation based on minimum wage requirements when the businesses have to pay compensation; 3. to give temporary leave without pay until recovery from Covid-19; 4. to help businesses and workers using the social security fund at the low-interest rate; 5. to disburse soft loans to businesses by local banks, to pay workers’ salaries and operate businesses; 6. to postpone the announcement of the new minimum wage, set to be released between May and September; 7. to share real-time situations and information by the government, to ensure mutual understanding between employers and employees; 8. for the government to assist employees in understanding the situation and prevent protests; 9. to urge the government to issue an official statement in order to regulate the compensation problem arising from breach of contracts caused by the inability to carry out exports due to the shortage of raw materials and 10. to cooperate with the Customs Department to ensure swift customs clearance for raw materials at jetties. (Translated by Hay Mar)