High Timber Tax Deters Home Construction

Narinjara News

Illegal high taxes imposed by Burmese military personnel, police, and forestry officers in Arakan State on timber and bamboo, on both wholesale producers and private re-sale buyers is have left the latter facing difficulties in building or repairing their homes.

According to a resident of Ponna Kyunt, troops from Light Infantry Battalion 539, stationed at the Yoe Khaung Bridge between the villages of War Taung and Pan Bae Khaung, take 10 kyats for bamboo, 700 kyats for small-sized timber, and 150 kyats for a bunch of thatch.

It does not matter whether these people have a permit to transport the building materials from the Forestry Department or not - soldiers at the checkpoint make everyone pay the toll.

Wholesale traders have to pay many hundreds of thousands of kyat to get the permit in the first place, and with army tolls on top, the prices of building materials are sky-high, reports the villager.

Moreover, in Ponna Gyunt Township, building a house costs 5000 for a large house and 3000 for a small house, as a fee to the Forestry Department, says a villager from Mrat Hlae Village.

He says, "I paid 3000 kyats to the Forestry Department at Yoe Ta Yoat, for my new house."

Before 1988, there are only three battalions of the Burmese Army in Arakan State, but there are now more than fifty battalions. As the military personnel are involved in every possible business venture, ordinary people are left with very limited business opportunities - in addition to taking tolls and taxes at every possible opportunity.