ABC of Opinions (or Optimism!) on Current State of Affairs
These days, business leaders are wary of giving full length interviews for fear of social punishment. Especially those from organizations such as UMFCCI, where most of the central executive committee members specialize in sitting on the fence (in Myanmar, the term is ‘Thar Koo’), interviews are hard to come by. So instead of full length interviews, we thought our readers would be delighted with the answers to three questions from nine most respected members of Myanmar business community.
We asked three critical questions of
- What’s your biggest challenge right now and how are you coping with it?
- How do you see the current situation developing?
- What are your future plans?
The names are purposely hidden, for the individuals to speak freely.
1. Mr TM (Owner/director with a top local investment firm)
- I have been out of the country in the USA for nearly two months so i was not affected much.
- It depends on who wins. If NLD wins, all the current deals with the military government would be reverse. If military wins, the deals will be honored.
- I am trying to get M&A deals done online. Just wait and see.
2. Mr KW (one of the most experienced and respected local businessman)
- Person having cash is the King. I wish i have more cash in hand, to sell the Kyats. I am now only working with bare minimum staff. Thank god, no HR/CDM/Absentee issues.
- MM people have very short memories. Think about this.. no one actually remembers 1988 or 2007 uprisings. So, if the banking crisis can be addressed, it will be back to normal sooner rather than later.
- I am not thinking that long term yet. Short term first. Probably working together with the Chinese would be the route to get MM getting up quickly.
3. Mr AT (#1 supplier of hotel products in MM)
- Business has dropped close to nothing. I am simply in the wrong line of business at this point of time. Having no business is worse than the cash crisis for myself. At least, the restaurant industry is picking up again.
- It would be back to normal soon, but it depends on the industry.
- I am semi-retired, yet hopefully the circumstances won’t force me into retirement.
4. Mr AC (One top ASEAN businessman who has been in MM for close to 20 years)
- Business has dropped during these months up to 5-10 years ago levels, based on monthly revenues. The cash crisis has somewhat affected me, but not that much. In accordance with the revenues, we have to cut employees salaries also, around 30%.
- Having been in Myanmar for many years and having seen all the ups and downs, i would not worry much. It would be up again. The government has to quickly get political stability. Homemade bombs going off everywhere, is not going to instill investors’ confidence. Instability would also increase the cost of doing business unnecessarily.
- I am already re-bidding for projects. Once we have knowledge and training, we are ready to go to business war.
5. Mr ZN (Owner/CEO of a technology company)
- I was lucky that i managed to withdraw the money out before the current cash crisis. Most of the businesses i dealt with are government tenders, esp., from Ministry of Education. I still get paid as per normal for my jobs done.
- I am already meeting with a few ministers and my managers are doing much business development work in Nay Pyi Taw. We are also submitting tenders.
- Business as usual, for me.
6. Mr ZT (Owner/CEO of a power supply conglomerate)
- Banking/financial system is the biggest challenge. Reduced business at present. Future investment is also a problem because of lack of availability of finance. Everything is slowing down. Better cash management is the key to survival at this point of time.
- Bad time for business, double down by Covid-19 and general area CDM. There will be sunshine after the rain. The thing is we should still be alive when the rain stops.
- Survival of the fittest. We try to be fit in everywhere that we operate.
7. Mr LC (Top commercial foreign lawyer who has been in MM for more than ten years)
- Managing a business virtually for a long time.
- A resolution to the current difficulties is likely to be slow, existing and new investments are highly unlikely to continue during current difficulties, so there is unlikely to be any work for service businesses for quite some time. It is making hard to continue in business in Myanmar.
- To implement cost savings measures and to continue with reduced capacity at present to see what the future brings.
8. Mr SS (A Chinese factory owner with 2000+ employees)
- The biggest challenge would be business volume reduction. We are doing around 25% of last year volume during the past three months.
- We always pay nearly all our employees in cash, so we have sufficient cash reserves. Our township has been placed under military curfew since a couple of factories quite close to ours were burned down by demonstrators. After the martial law, the law and order situation has improved quite significantly.
- I do not intend to change the strategy so far, but I have to reduce the number of staff by nearly half due to reduced sales volume.
9. Mr OG (A foreign businessman supplying imported seafood)
- Cash. Simply we got no physical cash. I got to tell my suppliers, you have to take online payments. There are no alternatives.
- Hopefully it would be back to normal soon. We cannot sustain that long. We have many employees.
- Our business is based on consumption, so we hope that consumption would be back to normal. We do not want to cut staff.