Thursday, 22 May 2008

Locals claim Rangoon authorities still misappropriating aid

By Nan Kham Kaew

May 21, 2008 (DVB)–Authorities are continuing to misappropriate and sell relief supplies donated by the international community for cyclone survivors, according to residents of the former capital Rangoon.

Rangoon residents said that the wives of local officials have been selling meat, fish and cooking oil at markets in Bahan township, and are selling salt door to door.

“The wives of Ward Peace and Development Council officials are selling fish for 300 kyat each,” said a local housewife.

“Some said the fish had been exported from foreign countries and were meant for cyclone victims. They are also selling non-iodized salt door to door for 50 kyat a pack.”

Authorities have also been selling palm oil, which residents say they have switched with cooking oil donated from Thailand, in different places in town since 17 May.

“Thailand has donated cooking oil but we don’t get any,” another Rangoon resident said.

“We can only have palm oil and we have to purchase it,” he said.

“Authorities get oil traders to buy palm oil from Nyaungpinlay market for 4000 kyat a viss (1.5 kg) and sell it to the people at 2500 kyat a viss. Traders have to sell oil in rotation.”

According to current market prices, a viss of peanut oil costs 5000 kyat and a pack of iodised salt 900 kyat.

Rice, cooking oil and salt are essential components of Burmese food. Mallemein, Latputta, Ngaputaw and Arakan are the main salt producing areas in Burma but salt fields were destroyed in some places this year due to bad weather conditions.

U Kyin Win, an elected people’s parliament representative from Ngaputaw, warned that people may face salt shortages in the future because of insufficient production and the impact of the cyclone.

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