Energy price hike sparks outrage

Four people have been arrested in Mandalay during a protest against a government-backed electricity price hike.

Protestors scuffled with police on Wednesday evening, and those arrested were taken away in police trucks.

Parliament has approved a government proposal to raise electricity prices on 1 April.

Fifty people took to the streets of Rangoon in a candlelight protest against the government’s energy hike.

Two people in Rangoon have been charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which states protestors must get prior permission from authorities. The two were later released on bail.

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One of those charged, Win Cho, said MPs are not listening to their constituents.

“Do MPs represent the wishes of the people regarding the electricity price law?” he said. “Do MPs who claim to speak for the people and who sit in parliament explain to their constituents the reasons of the energy price hike?”

The current rate for supplying electricity to households across Burma stands at 25 kyat (US$0.02) per unit. Under the new plan, households using up to 100 kilowatts per month the price will be 35 kyat per unit. For those using more than 100 units they will have to pay 40 kyat and for over 200 units households will be charged 50 kyat.

However, protestors said the energy hike will put extra strain on the people, many of whom are already struggling financially.

“Without planning to improve the life of ordinary people, we can’t accept the burden of an energy price hike,” said one protestor.

Last year protestors successfully stalled a similar proposal to raise electricity prices.

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