Friday, August 21, 2009

Seventy nine debtors file lawsuit against bean traders

by May Kyaw
Thursday, 20 August 2009 19:06

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Six of the seven bean traders, accused of defaulting on their debt last year, have been sued in court by 79 people, who claim that they had not been paid by the businessmen.

Last year, with the decline in global bean prices, the Burmese domestic market was also hit, leaving businessmen dealing in beans in the lurch and unable to pay their suppliers. The 79 people have filed a case against the businessmen.

“The 79 people who were not paid have filed a lawsuit. Though there were seven businessmen, Phyo Kyaing is not among those sued. The six others were sued at township courts including San Chaung, Pabedan, Lanmadaw, Kyauktada and Hlaing. We have not been able to do anything about it,” an official at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), told Mizzima.

Since last year the UMFCCI in Rangoon has been trying to negotiate between the businessmen and their debtors to bring about a settlement. But the official said since they have not been able to reach a negotiated settlement, the UMFCCI dropped the case last month. It encouraged the debtors to file charges in their respective Township courts.

A businessman at the Bayin Naung business centre in Rangoon said, “the UMFCCI has told them to sue the businessmen in respective township courts. If Ko Phyo Kyaing owes you something, sue him. If it is Ko Min Naing sue him in the Lanmadaw township court, if it is ‘Future King’ sue them in Pabedan court etc.”

As a common practice in Burma’s domestic market, the beans businessmen took numerous tons of beans from local suppliers at the rate of Kyat 700,000 (USD 700) per ton last November for export to foreign countries without clearing the payment.

But as the domestic market declined as a fallout of the global economic meltdown, they were unable to sell the beans at the original price but were only able to sell at the rate of Kyat 300,000 (USD 300) per ton, leaving them with a huge amount of debt with the local suppliers.

With the UMFCCI negotiating, properties of five of the businessmen were auctioned on April 7, and with the money the debts were cleared partially. Following the auction and partial clearance, the UMFCCI encouraged the remaining suppliers to sue the businessmen at their local township court, and closed the beans scandal.

“We told them to file lawsuits against the businessmen at their respective courts. We hired a lawyer and accepted the case to be filed here in our office but the deadline is over for that. Each day about 10 people came to file charges. It has been about two weeks now that we have stopped accepting,” an official of the UMFCCI’s negotiating team told Mizzima.

In 2008, about two million tons of a total production of an estimated five million tons of beans was exported to foreign countries. Among many other countries, India is the largest export market for Burmese beans.

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