Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brick factory owners see red over army demands for deep discounts

By Kon Hadae, IMNA

The Burmese army is forcing the owners of brick factories to sell their goods to soldiers for a deeply discounted price.

Currently the price for one brick is over 50 kyat, but brick factory owners report that the soldiers will pay only 30 kyat per brick.

3 weeks ago, in Mudon Township, factory owners were approached by State Peace and Development (SPDC) troops and informed that they need 40 million bricks, to build more battalions. They demanded the special price.

Many balked at the offer, as their profits would diminish and, for some, their bricks had already been ordered by another buyer. Nevertheless, sources told IMNA heard reports that the Burmese soldiers were insistent, only willing to pay the discounted price and not even considering paying the factory owners’ normal price.

“They forced us to sell the bricks for lower prices. I do not want to sell my bricks for only that price, because I am going to lose my profits. But I dare not refuse them, I have to sell my bricks to them,” one factory owner told IMNA.

According to another source, the soldiers settled on only two unpleasant options: “the SPDC told the brick owners that if they would not sell all their bricks to them, they must sell half.”

This expectation of special economic treatment secured through force and intimidation extends well beyond this event, and its ill-effects exacerbate a deep financial crisis and ongoing price fluctuations in Mon State and other parts of Burma.

According to a Kamawet Village, Mudon Township factory owner, he had to sell 100,000 of his 200,000 bricks to the soldiers for the discounted price. Similarly, bricks owners from Thanphyuzayat, Mudon and Lamine also report being ordered to sell at least half of their bricks, ostensibly for the construction of new battalions.

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