Myanmar’s electricity sector close to collapse as people refuse to pay their bill

The electricity sector in Myanmar is close to becoming the next collateral damage case of the February 1 military coup in the country as it keep losing hundreds of millions of dollars in income due to a boycott campaign launched by pro-democracy activists.

They were calling on people not to pay their bills to the state power providers owned by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, which is controlled by the junta.

According to a group of anonymous experts called Independent Economists for Myanmar (IEM), the ministry is collecting 100 billion kyat (about $61 million) less per month as large parts of the public refuse to support the regime with bill payments, The Irrawady wrote.

The bill collection rates in the country’s two major commercial cities, Yangon and Mandalay, were as low as two and three per cent, respectively, as of March, the IEM said, adding that total losses in the electricity sector in Myanmar could reach two to 2.5 trillion kyat ($1.52 billion) this year, representing about ten per cent of all fiscal revenue.

“Low-risk civil disobedience”

For Burmese opposing the military regime, refusing to pay their electricity bills is viewed as a low-risk way of civil disobedience while at the same time withholding funds for the state.

After nearly five months of people ignoring power bills, the regime has threatened to disconnect the meters of those who do not pay. As a response, public electricity employees have been attacked on the streets and electricity distribution offices were targeted by protesters across the country.

The IEM said the regime has not only caused a short-term financing gap for the electricity sector leading to more and longer outages, but also a longer-term decline in power supply in the country because maintaining the grid has become a problem after more than 4,000 staff in the electricity ministry have been dismissed for sympathising with the protesters or have left on their own.

Entire power sector faces massive trouble as projects get suspended

In the longer term, the electricity supply in Myanmar is likely to suffer and will possibly deteriorate, the IEM said. Offshore gas fields are being depleted and replacement fields will likely not come online as originally planned.  New hydropower projects are either suspended or unlikely to move ahead due to violent conflict in regions where large-scale projects are planned.

With regards to renewable energy, some investors including Électricité de France, Australia’s Woodside Energy and mostly Chinese winners of solar tenders have suspended their activities or pulled out of the country entirely. The World Bank has also suspended all disbursements for electrification projects and negotiations for subsequent loans have stopped.

“The resulting supply crunch could ripple through the economy for years,” the IEM said.



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The electricity sector in Myanmar is close to becoming the next collateral damage case of the February 1 military coup in the country as it keep losing hundreds of millions of dollars in income due to a boycott campaign launched by pro-democracy activists. They were calling on people not to pay their bills to the state power providers owned by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, which is controlled by the junta. According to a group of anonymous experts called Independent Economists for Myanmar (IEM), the ministry is collecting 100 billion kyat (about $61 million) less per month as large...

The electricity sector in Myanmar is close to becoming the next collateral damage case of the February 1 military coup in the country as it keep losing hundreds of millions of dollars in income due to a boycott campaign launched by pro-democracy activists.

They were calling on people not to pay their bills to the state power providers owned by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, which is controlled by the junta.

According to a group of anonymous experts called Independent Economists for Myanmar (IEM), the ministry is collecting 100 billion kyat (about $61 million) less per month as large parts of the public refuse to support the regime with bill payments, The Irrawady wrote.

The bill collection rates in the country’s two major commercial cities, Yangon and Mandalay, were as low as two and three per cent, respectively, as of March, the IEM said, adding that total losses in the electricity sector in Myanmar could reach two to 2.5 trillion kyat ($1.52 billion) this year, representing about ten per cent of all fiscal revenue.

“Low-risk civil disobedience”

For Burmese opposing the military regime, refusing to pay their electricity bills is viewed as a low-risk way of civil disobedience while at the same time withholding funds for the state.

After nearly five months of people ignoring power bills, the regime has threatened to disconnect the meters of those who do not pay. As a response, public electricity employees have been attacked on the streets and electricity distribution offices were targeted by protesters across the country.

The IEM said the regime has not only caused a short-term financing gap for the electricity sector leading to more and longer outages, but also a longer-term decline in power supply in the country because maintaining the grid has become a problem after more than 4,000 staff in the electricity ministry have been dismissed for sympathising with the protesters or have left on their own.

Entire power sector faces massive trouble as projects get suspended

In the longer term, the electricity supply in Myanmar is likely to suffer and will possibly deteriorate, the IEM said. Offshore gas fields are being depleted and replacement fields will likely not come online as originally planned.  New hydropower projects are either suspended or unlikely to move ahead due to violent conflict in regions where large-scale projects are planned.

With regards to renewable energy, some investors including Électricité de France, Australia’s Woodside Energy and mostly Chinese winners of solar tenders have suspended their activities or pulled out of the country entirely. The World Bank has also suspended all disbursements for electrification projects and negotiations for subsequent loans have stopped.

“The resulting supply crunch could ripple through the economy for years,” the IEM said.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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