Kon Ha Dae : The Burmese government department of transportation in Three Pagoda Pass Township, Mon State, has instated a new tax on 4 and 10 wheeled vehicle owners, burdening vehicle owners regardless of their vehicle’s use.
On January 3rd, the chairman of the Three Pagoda Pass (TPP) Department of Transportation, Kyaw Min, convened a meeting attended by owners of 4-wheeled pickup trucks and owners of 10 wheel trucks owners in TPP town.
The meeting took place at the Department of Transportation office. Previously, the TPP Department of Transportation had sent invitation letters out to town residents that owned pickup trucks and 10 wheel trucks stating that they must attend the meeting.
At the meeting vehicle owners were informed that they must pay a tax on their vehicles. One 10-wheel truck owner who attended the meeting explained, “There the chairman told us 10-wheel truck owners they must pay 3,000 baht. Pickup truck owners were told they must pay 1,500 baht.”
According to residents, in the past Burmese army light infantry battalion (LIB) No. 283 would individually contact pickup truck and 10 wheel truck owners, and demand that the owner use their vehicle to transport military supplies to other battalions. Now, Instead, vehicle owners will have to pay the tax, reportedly to cover the costs of LIB No. 283 hiring other vehicles’ to transport their cargo, rather then using the civilian vehicles.
“They have power; if they ask money from us, we’re surely going to have to pay,” a 10-wheel car owner said. “Whenever they want we will have to pay them.”
According to the 10 wheeled truck owner, those TPP town residents who received the letters about the meeting will be given until January 5th to pay the new tax. Owners whose vehicles are not used by the military will have to pay the tax regardless. The chairman also announced that the tax would only be good for 6 months.
There are 59 10-wheeled truck and 40 pickup trucks normally used in TPP town. However according to an attendee at the meeting, only about 50 vehicle owners attended.
These pickup trucks and 10-wheeled trucks are normally used to transport timber.
For many of these vehicle owners, the severity of the tax is difficult to pay. A pickup truck owner who has been transporting timber from TPP town complained, “This year when we carried timber, we had to pay a lot of taxes [at checkpoints] compared to last year – last year for example we had to pay 6,000 baht – this year we have to pay 12,000 baht…Even though we cannot make good money we have to pay. Every car owner is like me; even if [they have no] money, they must find money [to pay.]”