The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has revoked the permits of 123 businesses throughout the country to exchange Myanmar kyat for foreign currency, a regime-controlled newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The CBM reportedly revoked the companies’ licences due to their failure to abide by certain regulations and directives under the Foreign Exchange Management Law.
The entities that will lose their licences include hotels and tourism businesses, whose daily operations depend on relatively free access to foreign currencies.
Among the affected businesses are entities with prominent reputations or connections such as the Sedona Hotel, managed through Straits Greenfield Ltd; Royal Lake Hotel Co., Ltd, connected with the five-star Chatrium Hotel in Yangon; Amata International Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of the Amata Group listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange; and Taw Win Family Construction Co., Ltd, founded by the late businessman Taw Win Ko Ko Htwe.
When reached for comment, personnel at the Pyae Hein Kyaw and Tet Toe Aung companies—two of the affected businesses—told Myanmar Now by phone that they had yet to receive the notification letter and that the company management was still discussing the matter.
“We are still in the process of asking questions. We don’t know much yet,” an employee of the Pyae Hein Kyaw Co., Ltd said on condition of anonymity.
He added that due to the unstable value of the kyat, Myanmar’s national currency, his company had already halted currency exchange transactions around three months ago.
“It’s possible that our licence was revoked due to the length of the pause,” he said.
Another executive at a business involved in foreign currency exchange in Yangon said his licence had not been revoked, but he does not know what to expect and is closely monitoring the situation.
“I think it depends on government policy. I can’t say exactly,” he said.
The junta has frequently threatened or inflicted penalties on businesses involved in converting money based on their alleged failure to adhere to regulations on holding or making transactions denominated in foreign currencies.
According to the junta’s mouthpiece the Global New Light of Myanmar, a total of 166 money changers have had their licences revoked between March and September, as they “failed to comply with the rules and directives” issued by the CBM.
Since the overthrow of Myanmar’s civilian government in a military coup in 2021, the Myanmar kyat has depreciated nearly continuously for more than two and a half years. The military regime’s attempts to maintain a foreign currency exchange rate more favourable than the prevailing market rate have been largely unsuccessful.
The regime has also imposed a requirement on sailors, migrant workers abroad, businesses involved in cross-border commerce, and others receiving income denominated in American dollars to exchange their earnings at the rate set by authorities of 2,100 kyat to the dollar, while the real market rate is above 3,000 kyat.
Since the 2021 coup, the junta’s attempts to control financial markets through official orders and decrees—an approach echoing the previous military dictatorship’s actions under Than Shwe—has led to a resurgence of black market transactions.
Managing the value of Myanmar’s currency after the coup has proven especially difficult for a regime embroiled in ongoing conflict with armed resistance groups and facing an expanding set of sanctions imposed by foreign governments.