Suu Kyi govt ups Myanmar minimum wage as economy staggers

Yangon, Jan 3 (AFP) Myanmar is set to raise the minimumwage to around $3.60 a day, state media announced today, asAung San Suu Kyi's civilian gover...

Yangon, Jan 3 (AFP) Myanmar is set to raise the minimumwage to around $3.60 a day, state media announced today, asAung San Suu Kyi's civilian government struggles to projecteconomic progress after almost two years in power.

The new daily figure of 4,800 kyats represents a 33percent increase on Myanmar's first-ever minimum wageintroduced in 2015 by the previous army-backed administration.

"The new minimum wage will be applied across all regionsand states to all businesses with 10 or more workers," thestate-backed Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which tookpower in April 2016, made the economy a central plank of itscampaign.

But critics say it has failed to make real progress,struggling to pass laws that make Myanmar an easier place todo business or articulate a clear economic vision.

Myanmar saw GDP growth in 2017 slow to 5.9 per cent, theInternational Monetary Fund said in November, estimating arebound to 6.7 per cent this year.

Supporters of the government contend it is too early tojudge an administration which inherited a battered economy inone of Southeast Asia's poorest countries.

Sean Turnell, an economic consultant to the government,said Suu Kyi's administration had been "highly successful" intackling high inflation, debt and budget deficits left bydecades of junta rule.

"So their first order of business was to stabilise all ofthis. Not fun, and not something to bring about cheering inthe streets," he said.

Myanmar's average annual income per capita is $1,140 androughly 37 percent of the country's 51 million people livenear or below the poverty line.

But with wages lower than regional rivals Cambodia,Thailand and Vietnam, Myanmar wants to lure investors to itsmanufacturing sector.

But business confidence surveys paint a dull outlook fora country once celebrated as an Asian growth story.

The World Bank in October estimated a slowdown in growthand investment, though it said the overall economy remainedstable.

The group also said that the crisis in Rakhine state,which seen more than 655,000 Rohingya Muslims flee toneighboring Bangladesh, "could negatively affect investmentflows already affected by investor perceptions of slowingreforms".

Before the new wage comes into being there is a 60-dayperiod to lodge objections or public comment, according toMyanmar's Garment Manufacturers Association.

There are likely to be strong objections from employers,particularly small businesses and those hiring cheap seasonalworkers.(AFP)AMS.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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