Fewer than expected applicants for emergency loans in Myanmar

More than 150 companies have applied for the government’s COVID-19 relief programme within the first two days of the loans being made officially available. But just a third of the applications are from Yangon and most from Mandalay, according to the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). 

The deadline for submitting applications is April 9.

The number of Yangon-based applicants is considered to be low. “Looking at this figure, we think many business owners might not know about this loan programme. The other reason could be that business owners are not able to furnish the required documents to apply. It would be better if there is less documentation required,” said Daw Sabei Aung, owner of a tour company.

“The terms of applying for the loan require receipts of tax payments as well as proof of validity of licenses before March 2018. Under these conditions, just about 100 members of our association qualify for the loan. As of yesterday, only two out of our 600 members could apply,” said U Kyaw Min Hlaing, secretary of Domestic Pilgrimage & Tour Operators Association.

In Mandalay though, there were more than 100 applicants for the loan, U Oakkar Kyaw, general secretary of UMFCCI (Mandalay), said.

“There was a surge of people who came and applied. Most of them are SMEs. Some didn’t have complete data, so they had to reapply. Members of the governmental departments came and helped as well,” he said.

The Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry issued Notification 1/2020 on March 28, announcing loans and tax reliefs to help businesses in the garment sector, hotels and tourism companies and SMEs.

Firms in these industries will be able to apply for loans with a 1 percent interest rate for a period of one year. The interest rate and loan tenure may be adjusted based on the severity of economic losses suffered. 

Payment deadlines for income tax for the quarters ending March 31 and June 30, and monthly commercial taxes from March 31 to August 30 will be extended 30 September.

Meanwhile, a 2pc advance income tax on exports will also be exempted until September 30.