Shopkeepers in Sittwe Continue to Rise Against Illegal Market Tolls

Sittwe: A group of shopkeepers from Myoma Market, the largest market in Arakan State’s capital Sittwe, have flocked to the local municipal office to demand a stop to illegal toll taxes at the market, just after shopkeepers from Nazi Market in the city achieved results from a similar effort.

“It was not a protest but we have gone to the municipal office to present our sufferings caused by the illegal toll taxes in our market and met with senior officials,” said U San Shar, a dried fish shop owner in the market.

18 dried-fish shop owners from the market were reportedly among those who went to submit their trouble from the illegal taxation at the market to the municipal office.

“We have already paid official taxes for our shops to the municipality, and we do not need to pay any tax collectors in the market according to municipal law. But a bag of dried fish is now being taxed 500 kyat by the collectors in the market whenever we bring the dried fish to our shops. That is not in line with the municipal law and we have gone to submit the matter to the office,” said U San Shar.

U Kyaw Tun, another shop owner in the market, also said they have had to pay such illegal taxes without filing any complaints with the office for over a decade.

“It is the time for us to disclose our difficulties because the government has already changed to a civilian and democratic one. The taxation right for the Nazi Market that was sold to U Khin Maung Hla by the authorities and military intelligence is now already revoked. We also want to stop that extra taxation in our market and have made our demands to the municipal office,” said U Kyaw Tun.

U Khin Maung Hla is said to have received the license for the stall tax at Nazi Market from the authorities, but his license has now been revoked after shopkeepers from the market marched to the regional Chief Minister’s house and demanded a stop to the increasing taxation on their shops in the market last Sunday.

U Aung Mra Kyaw, and MP of the State Parliament from Sittwe, also said, “The dried-fish shop owners in the market have been facing the ruin of their business, as they have to pay taxes in two or three places in the market besides the official municipal taxes. That is why they have gathered and made demands to the municipal office to stop the extra illegal taxes in the market.”

According to the shopkeepers from Myoma Market, the municipal officials have promised them they will take the necessary steps to stop the extra taxation on their shops in the market.

They said they would march to the Chief Minister’s office as well if their demands are not met, adding that they have been long suffering from those heavy taxes at the market.