Junta acknowledges soldiers’ payouts from military conglomerate still missing 

A spokesperson for the junta admitted at a press conference on Thursday that the Myanmar army has yet to pay soldiers the dividends they are owed from the 2021 revenue of military-owned conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings Co, Ltd (MEHL).

The payouts from MEHL are based on profits generated annually and are typically allocated to troops in the months immediately following the end of the fiscal year in September, making it more than seven months late at the time of reporting. 

Members of the armed forces are required to buy and maintain a stake in the conglomerate, the size of which is determined by their ranks and deducted annually from their salaries, according to officers who spoke to Myanmar Now after leaving the military following the February 2021 coup. 

The investments range from 1.5m kyat (US$843) for low-ranking troops to at least 5m kyat ($2,810) for officers who are ranked at and above the position of lieutenant colonel. 

Proclaimed military supporter Swe Zin Oo raised the issue of the missing MEHL payments to junta spokesperson Gen Zaw Min Tun at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Thursday. 

“Soldiers and their families are expecting the dividends from the MEHL,” she said at the event. 

Gen Zaw Min Tun replied that the military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing was aware of the problem and that the military was “trying [their] best to come up with a plan.” 

Cpt Ye Min Oo, who around one month ago left the frontlines and joined the Civil Disobedience Movement aimed at toppling the regime, speculated that the military had already exhausted the MEHL revenue and would be unable to recover it. 

“I had to let go of those dividends when I defected from the army. I now think of that money as being spent for their funerals,” he told Myanmar Now from a liberated area where he has sought safety. 

Another officer who defected around the same time, military nurse Cpt Khin Pa Pa Tun, said that she did not receive her share in the conglomerate’s profits before joining the resistance. 

“Many people depend on that money and if they can’t pay it, the military is in incredibly bad shape,” she said, adding, “It’s going to fall apart soon.”

MEHL was founded in 1990 and includes around 50 business enterprises.

Many junta-owned enterprises have seen a decrease in profits since the coup, when the Myanmar public began a widespread boycott of military businesses. 

According to a May 2021 financial statement by Kirin, the Japanese company which produced Myanmar Beer in collaboration with MEHL, sales plummeted by 46 percent during this period, forcing Kirin to end the partnership, its dealings with MEHL and withdraw from Myanmar. 

Advocacy group Justice For Myanmar reported that Mytel, a telecommunications company jointly-owned by the Myanmar and Vietnamese militaries, also lost $25m in profits in the three months after the coup.

A military parade during Armed Forces Day events in the military capital of Naypyitaw in 2019 (EPA)

No sign of annual payout from Myanmar military conglomerate to soldiers

Troops obligated to buy shares in MEHL may be denied a slice of company profits this year, defecting officers say

A military parade during Armed Forces Day events in the military capital of Naypyitaw in 2019 (EPA)

No sign of annual payout from Myanmar military conglomerate to soldiers

Troops obligated to buy shares in MEHL may be denied a slice of company profits this year, defecting officers say

A military parade during Armed Forces Day events in the military capital of Naypyitaw in 2019 (EPA)

Troops obligated to buy shares in MEHL may be denied a slice of company profits this year, defecting officers say

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