Sittwe: Around 60 sellers from Nazi Market in Sittwe marched to Prime Minister U Hla Maung Tin’s house on Sunday morning and demanded he address the problems they are facing.
“We are facing several problems, the main problem is the high market levy. A room of eight square feet is levied at 1,000 kyats a day. A trishaw carrying a bag is taxed 1,000 kyats if it enters the market. A mont-dee shop (a traditional Arakanese noodle shop) has to pay 700 kyats, a sticky rice shop 500 kyats, and at worst, cross-passing in front of the market tax collector’s house costs some money. Failing to comply with the tax collection results in being threatened by thugs. We can not bear it anymore and so, we are marching to the Prime Minister’s house to ask him to solve our problems. We have about 60 people,” a group leader said.
Even though they marched to the Prime Minister’s house, they did not get a chance to meet with him, so they again marched to the Municipal Office.
“Because we could not meet the PM, we continued to the Municipal Office, where we met the Minister of the Municipality, Deputy Director, and the State Municipal Officer. They confirmed that they will solve our problems. We were given a second appointment for 20 of us this morning. If found guilty, the market tax license will be withdrawn from the collectors,” he added.
The sellers from the markets had already submitted their complaint to the authority with evidence such as videotape and documents, but they received no response. That is why the decided to march to the PM’s house.
“Our profits are ripped off by the high tax every single day and we are left with nothing. Even buyers are levied with unofficial taxes every time they come to the markets and finally our market does not get any customers any more. Our business has been affected so much with this unfair tax. We have lodged the compliant with the authority but no one paid attention. That’s why we are asking the PM to intervene,” he said.
An MP from Sittwe, U Aung Mra Kyaw, gave comments regarding this issue.
“The tax collector U Khin Maung Hla, aka Saw Lain, has been bullying people since the time of the military intelligence and he has not stopped his practice. We received several complaints about him. We have informed the state government about the issue as there might arise unnecessary problems with respect to this case,” he said.
U Khine Maung Hla is reportedly imposing high taxes on the Nazi Market as well as another small market near primary school no. 3 in Factory Group Quarter, on Aye Thar Yar Road. This small market is about 1,500 feet away from Nazi Market and it is meant for the poorest people who can not afford much.
All across Arakan State, people from the time of the old military intelligence have been exploiting people by imposing heavy duties because they are close to the military and they hold market, fishing, and shrimp farm operation licenses. The march to the PM’s house was the first demonstration of this kind to demand a reduction from heavy taxes in Arakan State.