Narinjara news

Western Command allocate money collected through illegal tolls for the Model villages in northern Arakan

Maungdaw, June 14:
The Western Command have recently allocated a total of Kyat 34.4 million for 299 houses to be built in the model villages around Maungdaw, the western part of Arakan State, a source in the Nasaka told our correspondent.

The first allocation of money amounting to kyat 18.4 million has gone to the four model villages now under construction. “Tharafee” village will contain a total of 45 houses when completed, “Thazin-myain” (45 houses), “Kaing-gree” (42 houses), “Eingyin-myaing” (13 houses), and “Padauk-myaing” (15 houses).

For the 139 houses to be built in the next phase, the Nasaka border security forces have applied for a total allocation of kyat 16 million to the Western Commander.

Besides that there has been wide scale use of forced labour of the neighbouring villagers for more housing at Pratheit village under Maungdaw township where the group of Arakan Army faction that surrendered to the Burmese junta will be rehabilitated.

On inquiry, a senior accountant from the Burmese military told to our correspondent that, the money so allocated came from a special fund of the military which is neither from the government treasury nor the budget of the defence ministry. “The special fund has been created by the Burmese military with its own initiatives,” he added not clearly defining what “own initiatives” these are.

A manager from the Myanmar Ubaing Ltd bank told our correspondent that the brigade headquarter # 15 (one of the three such headquarters in Arakan State) (Seik-byu-ha Kwaik-kye-hmu Thana-chouk #15) at Buthidaung had a deposit of kyat 55.4 million in the year of 2001 which include the following infantry divisions of the Burmese army: LIB 353 that had a deposit of kyat 8.7 million, LIB 535 kyat 7.2 million, LIB 536 kyat 4 million, LIB 537 kyat 3.2 million, LIB 551 kyat 3 million, LIB 552 kyat 3.15 million, LIB 564 kyat 8.6 million, and LIB 565 kyat 8.6 million.

As the Burmese junta cannot pay the members of the military enough for their own survival, the junta encourage and have allowed them to make money by every possible means by confiscating privately owned land, shrimp farms, fruit orchards, and doing timber trade, transport business, rice trade and construction contracts. There are also allegations about the involvement of a large number of army personnel with the smugglers who do brisk smuggling in rice, pulses, forest products with Bangladesh, the option of drug trafficking not ruled out.

A successful businessman of Sittwe told us that, anyone who wants to do business or trade, be it legal or otherwise, must keep good relations with the military officials, hobnobbing with them.

“In the same way, the money procured for constructing the houses of the model villages have been raised by the Burmese military through illegal tolls collected by every possible means from the local business community, small traders plying in the waterways or roads of Arakan State. Any traveller to Arakan State will find military checkpoints everywhere in the state where gun-toting men in uniform are found lying in wait for illegal tolls,” he concluded. #