COVID-19 Pushes Rural Myanmar Towards Moneylenders
By Ye Mon
On May 11, a storm swept through a village in Magway Region and battered the house of Ko Win Kyaw Soe. The need for repairs was urgent, he said, but without the money to cover costs or the time to jump through the hoops of a microfinance loan application, he reluctantly turned to an illegal moneylender.
The decision has beckoned another storm – one of high interest rates and spiralling debt, and the possibility of threats and violence. But the economic turmoil brought by COVID-19 restrictions has left desperate borrowers like Win Kyaw Soe with little choice.
For Win Kyaw Soe, the monthly interest of 20 percent on the K100,000 sum to fix his home in Tat Kone village in Magway Township would have been steep at the best of times. But measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus had recently forced the temporary closure of the beer station where he was a waiter in Magway town, and for the time being he has no income.
Photo courtesy of KX Studio.