Fifth of Burmese aid cash lost to exchange rate trick
The situation in Burma after getting hit by Cyclone Nargis is back in the headlines. This time, it has much to do with money issues.
International aid agencies helping the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma are losing as much as a fifth of the money that they bring into the country because of arbitrary foreign exchange rules imposed by the military dictatorship.
Foreign non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies, such as the UN Development Programme and the World Food Programme, are compelled to exchange US dollars for convertible vouchers known to expatriates as “Monopoly money” before they are changed into local currency for as much as 20 per cent below the market rate. The money lost in these transactions could otherwise have been spent on the millions of people who lost homes and livelihoods in Cyclone Nargis, which killed about 138,000 when it struck the Irrawaddy Delta on May 2.