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Myanmar’s central bank revokes 123 forex licenses

Myanmar’s junta-controlled central bank has revoked the forex licenses of 123 companies, it announced this week.

Tuesday’s decision means that 167 companies have been barred from trading dollars in the past nine months.

The companies include forex firms, travel agencies, airlines, hotels, construction companies, gem traders, financial and trading companies.

They include Yangon’s famous Sedona Hotel and Myanmar National Airlines.

Radio Free Asia phoned the director general of the central bank’s Foreign Exchange Management Department, Nwe Ni Tun, to get details of the latest move but nobody answered.

A source close to the central bank, who declined to be named for security reasons, said the licenses were canceled because companies did not observe the bank’s reference exchange rate.

The central bank’s reference price is 2,100 kyats per U.S. dollar, which has been in force since April last year.

In the external market one U.S. dollar trades for between 3,300 and 3,500 kyats, said a businessman who also requested anonymity.

“When the government set the reference price in April 2022 no one could trade at those prices anymore,” he said.

“Companies had to send reports every day to the central bank.

“After more than a year of not being able to send accurate reports the central bank shut down these companies’ [forex operations].”

One of the travel companies whose license was revoked said that it stopped trading foreign currency since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

“We haven’t done foreign currency exchange for a long time since the COVID-19 period,” said the owner who also declined to be named.

“I think our license was revoked because we haven’t used it for a long time. “There is no problem because we only do ticketing for airlines.”

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.