Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank announced the temporary closure of its branches in the northern Shan State towns of Muse and Namkham on August 17.
The bank will continue to operate one branch in Muse but will close three more in the town, as well as its branch in Namkham. While the bank stated that it is working toward COVID-19 prevention, including the spraying of disinfectant on bank premises, it did not mention a re-opening date.
Locals say police have tightened security around the branches since the closure, and have questioned whether it coincides with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) annual tax collection in the area.
SHAN spoke to TNLA spokesperson Maj Tar Aik Kyaw, who said he did not know whether the bank had been ordered to make a payment to the TNLA’s taxation department.
“We collect tax every year,” he said of the practice, while not implicating the bank.
SHAN repeatedly called the phone numbers listed in the TNLA’s official taxation letters, but no one had answered the calls at the time of reporting.
KBZ Bank previously closed its branches in Hsipaw, Kyaukme and Nawng Cho (Nawngkhio) towns in northern Shan State on June 22 and reopened them on June 29.