Corrupt officials overcharge for electricity in Mudon Township

August 31, 2015

In a case of suspected corruption, households in Mudon Township have reported being vastly overcharged for electricity by their local government electricity committee. In particular, residents wishing to have electricity meters installed in their homes have allegedly paid up to ten times the actual cost to purchase a meter unit.

According to Phae Do Village resident Nai Mile Kyae, households in Phae Do, Kawlaw-Taw, Taung-Pa and Kaw Kapi Htaw villages have been asked to pay up to 900,000 Kyat to purchase an electricity meter. Reportedly, the actual cost of an electricity meter is just 90,000 Kyat. While charges have been consistently inflated, in the past villagers were only charged 450,000 Kyat for the unit.

Deepening financial burdens for Mudon residents, an installation fee is required on top of costs for the meter itself. Meaning that, in total, villagers have paid over 1 million Kyat to have a meter box installed. Those with larger houses have faced even higher costs. Reportedly, residents with two-storey houses have paid 1.5 million Kyat for the meter box and installation.

According to Nai Mile Kyae, “People know it is unfair and costs too much, but no one dares to go against it”.
Fuelling rumours of corruption, it is unclear how the excess money charged has been spent.

Further to concerns over meter installation costs, corruption is also suspected regarding basic charges for electricity supply. While the local electricity committee charges 70 Kyat per unit of electricity, only 35 Kyat per unit is official which committee is required to account to the government electricity department. The remaining 35 Kyat per unit is designated “village funds”, to be spent as deemed appropriate. However, these funds are poorly accounted for and, where accounts exist, financial reporting is filled with inaccuracies.

Fostering a sense of injustice, while officials have benefited from high electricity charges, villagers have been asked to foot part of the bill for regional development, including upgrades to infrastructure. Reportedly, the government has contributed only half the funds required to pave the road in Phae Do Village, requiring villagers to pay the remainder themselves.

According to Nai Chit Aye, 55, from Kaw Kapi Htaw Village, concerns over local corruption have contributed to a decline of trust in government.

Nai Chit Aye explained, “Now, those who have electricity installed [in their homes] pay a lot. It should not be like this. For my house, it cost almost 1,300,000 Kyat […] The government energy department unfairly takes a lot from people. We have come to realise that this bad behaviour is not going to end. No matter what the people want, [government officials] will do whatever they want. People will never have trust in the government”.

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