Prisoners from Myinchan prison in Mandalay township are being contracted out as cheap labour for local businesses by prison authorities, officials and former prisoners said yesterday.

A recently released inmate from the prison told DVB on condition of anonymity that prisoners who had served most of their terms were forced to work outside the prison in chains and without pay.

Staff at the prison confirmed they had received orders from the military government to use inmates as a means of creating income. The prison reportedly earns about 800 kyat per day for each inmate that works. The money is transferred into national funds, one official said.

“About 10 prisoners are going out to work every day . . . The money they earn is national property,” the official said.

The scheme has outraged local workers and labourers who said yesterday they found it harder to find work after the prisoners started offering cut price labour.

“The prison department offering inmates’ labour at cheap prices is making our daily business difficult,” a general labourer from Mandalay township said.