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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar's shadow government to issue $1bn in zero-interest bonds

Funds to support those resisting military government after February takeover

People hold placards in Yangon calling for a boycott of products made by companies associated with Myanmar's military government. (Photo courtesy of Ma We Nae)

BANGKOK -- The National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG), a pro-democracy group, has decided to issue its own "bonds" worth $1 billion. It aims to establish itself as the legitimate government of Myanmar after the military seized power in the country in February.

NUG announced on Thursday that in addition to issuing bonds and lottery tickets it would collect income and corporate taxes from citizens and businesses. Funds raised through the bond issuance and other means will be used to support those who have lost their jobs by participating in the resistance movement. People in Myanmar continue to protest the military takeover of the government.

The shadow government plans to issue $1 billion worth of bonds by mid-November through foreign banks. The dollar-denominated bonds will have a redemption period of two years and pay no interest. Details of the subscription and transaction method have not been disclosed. NUG says the debt will be issued through foreign financial institutions, but the feasibility of its plan is uncertain.

"The victory of the democratic revolution is the people's interest," said Tin Tun Naing, minister of planning, finance and investment with NUG. "I want people to call on their friends and families in foreign countries to buy the bonds."

The Myanmar military has designated NUG a terrorist organization, and an armed crackdown on civilians has brought a surface calm. However, there has been strong resistance among citizens, and some employees have asked their companies not to pay taxes, according to a foreign company.

In its announcement, NUG urged citizens and businesses to pay their taxes online to NUG instead of paying them to the military authorities. Tin Tun Naing said NUG needs $800 million for health care, education and humanitarian aid, and he stressed that "taxes should be paid to the elected government."

NUG also launched a lottery on Friday to support those participating in the civil disobedience movement, which refuses to cooperate with the army and is boycotting workplaces. Lotteries are popular in Myanmar. NUG stressed that the lottery, which was launched on a trial basis in August, was able to support more than 5,000 people, with an average payment of 100,000 kyat ($56). NUG called on people not to buy government-issued lottery tickets, which would raise funds for the military.

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