Corrupt taxation enriching government appointed headman in Mudon Township

January 13, 2009

HURFOM: A government-appointed headman in Nang Hlone village, Mudon Township, is enriching himself by collecting higher taxes than his counterparts in neighboring villages, say local sources.

Last week, the headman, Nai Win Shinn, began collecting a 4,000 kyat tax from rubber plantation owners, per 400 trees. The tax came at the behest of the Forestry Department. According to a source in the Naung Hlone Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC), the order was only for 200 kyat to be collected per 400 trees.

Other nearby headman appeared to be raising the tax for personal profit, but not to the degree experienced in Nang Hlong. “Some villages nearby our village have to pay one thousand kyat for four hundred trees. But in our village, the headman collected four thousands kyat,” said a local resident. Nai Win Shinn, who was appointed by the government three years ago, is reaching the end of his term as headman.

According to a former resident who moved to Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Burma border last year, the recent taxation is usual practice for Nai Win Shin. “He takes every opportunity on collect taxes from villagers. If upper levels order him to collect one thousand, he will collect two,” said the former resident. “There are many kinds of taxes: security taxes, for the pipeline, for militia. The cost of my labor is not enough to pay. I didn’t want to live that kind of life so I moved to Three Pagodas Pass. My life here is better – I do not have to the taxes at all.”

Nai Win Shinn stands to make substantial income from just this recent round of taxation, said the VPDC source, even though he has to share a portion of the proceeds with the Forestry Department. According to the VPDC source, Nang Hlone village is home to at least 500 families, each with more than 1,000 rubber trees.

Plantation owners, meanwhile, say that they are struggling to pay the tax, with some refusing. “The price of rubber has dramatically dropped,” said one plantation owner. According to a recent report by the Independent Mon News Agency, rubber currently fetches less than a fourth of its value a few months ago. “I own one thousand and five hundred trees,” added the owner. “I don’t know where can I get the money. Some of the rubber plantation owners in Nang Hlone villagers have given the tax to the headman, but the rest have not agreed to this.”

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