Myanmar’s construction sector contracts 30% due to COVID-19 pandemic

Construction News Myanmar
construction workers in Yangon. Photo – EPA

Myanmar’s construction sector contracts 30% due to COVID-19 pandemic

Industry insiders say that the country’s construction sector has slowed by around 30 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are construction projects that have been suspended due to a shortage of imported building materials and some have been stopped temporarily due to cash flow problems. About 70pc of projects are still running as usual. The situation is not so bad yet,” Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Federation (MCEF) Chair U Shein Win told The Myanmar Times.

However, if the situation worsens or drags on longer than expected, more construction projects may stop, he warned.

“Health is the most important thing. Construction projects have to stop if the government calls a halt on projects as a precaution to stop the spread of the virus,” said U Shein Win.

Workers are allowed to return to their hometowns if they want and construction projects are operating with half their workforce on a rotational basis, said U Ye Lin the head of the Danu San Yar Construction company.

“Like other types of businesses, construction companies are making their workforce work on a rotational basis to preserve jobs and to keep the business running,” U Ye Lin said.

Many of the construction business owners spoken to said they are waiting for new government tenders while also hoping that the completion deadlines for current contracts will be loosened as efforts to stop the spread of the virus will also slow construction work.

“To operate the business while the workers in the projects are worried is not easy. Tenders need to be completed on a deadline so we dare not stop projects. Everything may be okay if the government postpones deadline for completion,” MCEF general secretary U Myo Myint said, adding that transportation is being provided by companies so that workers don’t have to take public transport.

“The central bank has reduced interest rates but it hasn’t changed the situation yet. Given the current conditions, people are holding on to their money so there have been some delays in payment to construction companies. In the meantime, workers still have to be paid. To prevent job losses, the government has to take decisive action,” said U Myo Myint.

“I have already made arrangements for the next two months for the sake of employees and the company to survive. If the situation becomes worse or drags on until May, businesses may have to go through a tougher time,” said U Ye Lin. – Translated