Report on Burma’s Corrupt Taxation Launched In Bangkok
1 September 2010: Thailand-based ND-Burma (Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma) has today revealed an insightful account of the military regime’s corrupt and brutal system of taxation and its devastating impacts on the people of Burma at a press conference held at FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand) in Bangkok.
The report entitled The Hidden Impact of Burma’s Arbitrary and Corrupt Taxation, which has a ‘compelling’ record of the arbitrary and inhuman collection of money, land, goods, and labour from the ordinary people of Burma between 2008 and 2010, exposes the SPDC’s use of taxation as another tool of repression.
One of the panel speakers, Chin human rights activist Ms. Cheery Zahau, told Chinland Guardian: “The taxation system in Burma is lack of accountability and transparency towards the people. Therefore, the people have to pay the price for not getting the required information. For example, they don’t know how much, where and why they have to pay. On top of that, they don’t know forced labour is a form of taxation and land confiscation is also another form of taxation.”
“The way the human rights is abused in Burma is because the people don’t get right information. The SPDC is committing these brutal acts on a daily basis and the impacts of taxation is on ordinary people in education, health and social care,” added Cheery Zahau, Management Body Member of ND-Burma.
The report said of Burma’s military regime as transforming taxation from a routine and legitimate function of government into extortion and, with its lack of basic public provisions, crushing the people’s capacity to stand up against the state of Burma as their need to focus on survival prevails.
Dr. Alison Vicary, Researcher at Burma Economic Watch, highlighted the nature of taxation in Burma that negatively affects Burma’s economy and its people’s livelihood, and also stressed the need of demobilisation of the soldiers and of a new tax system in Burma that is suitable for a market economy.
Unless the political parties are allowed to campaign freely on the reforms of taxation, this corrupt system of taxation, which has been practiced by the military authorities for decades, will continue and so will the sufferings of the ordinary people of Burma, the press conference said.
Mr. Han Gyi, Coordinator of ND-Burma, told Chinland Guardian that the communities have been facing the most widespread and systematic violations of taxation for years but none of these have been documented.
While the majority of Burma’s people live in abject poverty, the military regime and its cronies continue to profit, with over 50% of the national budget spent on the military, compared to the meager provisions in health and social care. ND Burma’s research revealed that people are forced to hand over large proportions of their income and property in official and unofficial taxes leaving more and more people struggling to survive, according to the report.
Burma’s military regime is, the report said, spending more than 50% of its national budget on the military.
With its current 13 member organisations, the ND-Burma, formed in 2003, is committed to providing a way for Burma human rights organisations to collaborate on the human rights documentation process and seeking to collectively use the truth of what communities in Burma have endured as well as preparing for justice and accountability measures in a potential transition.
Van Biak Thang