Shan State’s Unemployed Still Excluded From Fourth Round of COVID-19 Relief Aid

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By HSENG LENG / SHAN

People across Shan State reported that once again they were not granted government support funds associated with COVID-19 economic relief as the fourth round of payments were distributed earlier this month.

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Fourth Round of COVID-19 Relief Aid, Shan State

The government announced that 40,000 (US$30) kyat would be given to working class families living in areas under stay-at-home orders, and 20,000 kyat ($15) to families in areas where these orders were not in effect as of November 10.

Than Naing, a General Administration Department (GAD) officer in southern Shan State’s Laikha Township, told SHAN that 20,000 kyat was distributed to 1,166 families in need across the township.

“We already provided it in Laikha. We didn’t give it to every family. We gave it to working class people [who don’t have regular income],” he said.

Loilam Township GAD officer Phyo Wai Lin said the same amount—20,000 kyat—was distributed to families there.

“Everything went fine,” he told SHAN.

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Fourth Round of COVID-19 Relief Aid, Shan State

Locals in these areas said that the recipients of the aid were those in villages nearer to the towns, and those in remote areas were left out.

“I am not a regular earner. I don’t have regular income. I especially have not gotten any income during the COVID-19 period. I heard that the government provided funds to elderly people. But as of today, I still haven’t gotten any support funds from the government,” Laikha Township woman Ba Saw told SHAN.

In Kyaukme, northern Shan State, locals also reported being excluded from the relief funds.

“We didn’t hear whether the government came to provide support funds in our area. Our village didn’t get government assistance the previous times,” Kyaukme resident Sai Thein said. “Some people do not have anything to eat. Some people are begging for food.”

On November 16, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said that people can “file complaints” if they don’t receive but are entitled to government assistance during the COVID-19 period.  

While phone numbers for GAD officers are public, people in remote areas say that they have difficulties contacting them regarding such complaints.

SHAN tried to call the public phone number of a GAD officer for comment, but no one had responded at the time of reporting.

During the first round of COVID-19 relief fund distribution across the country, the government provided 72 billion kyat ($48.95 million), then 218.3 billion ($166.97 million) kyat the second time, and 113.9 billion kyat ($87.1 million) the third time.

Around 164 billion kyat ($125.4 million) was distributed the fourth time nationwide.

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