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Burma’s Livestock and Fisheries Ministry issued a warning last week to ten private agro firms and ordered them to repay billions of kyat in loans by 31 August or face prosecution.
In an announcement published by the ministry on 2 August, officials claimed the firms had yet to repay around 13 billion (US$ 13,374,524.84) kyat worth of loans.
According to Thin Thin Wah of the Livestock Foodstuff and Dairy Enterprise, the firms had signed contracts and were obliged to return the loans or face the legal consequences.
“We will proceed accordingly with the legal procedures. We signed loan contracts that were overseen by the office of the attorney general,” said Thin Thin Wah.
But according to the companies who received the loans, inclement weather and mounting losses for the local farmers the firms had partnered with resulted in their failure to meet the contractual deadlines.
“We lost our investments with local farmers due to constant flooding and drought – we tried to explain to the ministry what the farmers told us but they have been ignoring it,” said Myo Min Thein, an organic fertiliser producer and loan recipient.
“If the ministry goes ahead with the lawsuit, then we will have no choice but to sue our affiliate agents that redistributed the loans to the farmers and then they will be forced to sue the farmers. This may lead to undesirable consequences.”
The producer went on to describe the one-month deadline as unfeasible and said providing the companies with more time to repay the loans was a more sensible solution
However, the ministry said the calls for the immediate repayment of the loans was initiated by the parliament and therefore any negotiations that could extend the deadlines for the loans must first be approved by the country’s legislators.
In July, the ministry announced in the state press the names of 43 firms that were due to repay loans provided by the government, of which only two have reportedly followed up on.