Myanmar shadow finance minister warns he won’t honor junta debts

Myanmar’s interim national unity government has warned foreign banks against lending to General Min Aung Hlaing’s junta, saying it will not recognize the debt once it regains power.

The warning was issued by the Minister of Finance of the parallel government formed by supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, the overthrown leader of the country. He said financial institutions should follow foreign investors in boycotting the military regime.

“The NUG government will not recognize any domestic or international debt raised by the junta,” Tin Tun Naing told the Financial Times in a video interview from Myanmar.

“If the military finds itself in a credit crunch and takes out loans from a willing lender, when NUG comes into power, that debt will not be honored.”

Tin Tun Naing also said that the parallel government is seeking to take $ 1 billion control Myanmar government funds held in the United States that Washington froze after the military seized power.

“If we manage to access the billion dollars, if it is not frozen, it would make a huge difference in humanitarian aid and in trying to rebuild the lives and livelihoods of our people,” Tin said. Tun Naing.

However, he acknowledged that this was a “legally complicated area” and that it was part of an “ongoing dialogue” with US officials.

The NUG was formed in April by deputies from the National League for Democracy of Suu Kyi, who was forced from power during the February coup, with the ethnic minority and other anti-coup figures in hiding or in exile.

The junta called the NUG and its recently announced “People’s Defense Force” terrorist groups. He has issued arrest warrants against NUG ministers.

No foreign government has officially recognized the parallel government. However, MPs and officials from several countries engaged with his representatives in finding a solution to the deepening political and economic crisis in Myanmar.

More than three months after the coup, the junta has killed 785 people and arrested nearly 5,000 people, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. Despite the repression, a civil disobedience movement continues to organize demonstrations and strikes aimed at weakening the junta and paralyzing banks and businesses.

“They underestimated people,” Tin Tun Naing told the FT. “They didn’t expect people to reject them so strongly.

He said the military regime “was already experiencing cash flow problems” and had deferred payment of quarterly pensions, as well as benefits to the elderly and disabled.

Opponents of the regime and international human rights groups want international companies to deprive the junta of all income to force them out of power.

They succeeded in putting pressure on foreign investors, including Make and South Korea Posco, to withdraw from joint ventures with conglomerates under military control.

The NUG also wants oil and gas and telecommunications companies to withhold taxes, licenses and other payments to the military government by placing them in receivership. The companies stressed that this would expose their local staff to legal action and jeopardize their services.

“NUG is pro-business and does not intend to disrupt the activity of these companies,” Tin Tun Naing said. “I am not asking that their operations cease.”

However, he rejected the idea that companies would face legal repercussions for keeping their payments to the regime in receivership. “The military will think twice before doing this to a powerful multinational with a powerful government behind it,” he said.

Follow John Reed on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

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