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Forest Department demands land registration fees

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Hong Dein :The Mudon Township Forestry Department has demanded that plantation owners living between Ah-bit and Kwan Hlar villages register their land with the Southern Mudon Township in Mon State.

In the second week of September, land owners were told to register their land for 50,000 kyat per acre with the Forestry Department. According to one owner in the area, only a few land owners have registered their plantations.

The acreage between Ah-bit village and Kwan Hlar village amasses to 400 to 500 acres. Many land owners do not want to register because they never previously payed for the land.

“One or two villagers from Ah-bit registered at the department. Most didn’t go due to more taxes,” one owner said. Formerly privately-owned land, registration will turn these plantations into government grant-land. In addition to the registration fee, plantation owners will be forced to pay an annual tax on their land to the Burmese government.

Most owners complained that “Because we never paid before, the owners with more acreage do not want to register.” This is also a common sentiment among owners with smaller pieces of land.

Still, a female rubber plantation owner in Mudon Township remembers the Forest Department explaining that this current registration is cheaper than before. Formerly, the registration price was 60,000 to 70,000 kyat per acre.

Within Mudon Township, parts of the land are owned by the Burmese government and other areas are privately owned. Paying for land in this area is not uncommon, though the owners currently affected planted rubber trees without possessing government grant-land paper. Other plantations near these two villages in Mudon Township were sold by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) for 50 thousand kyat per acre in 2004 and then increased to 120 thousand kyat per acre between 2005 and 2006. Since then, the land has been sold according to the number of acres and the size of the rubber trees.

Though the majority of owners in Mudon Township are reluctant to pay the registration price, many also worry that their land will be confiscated by the army and the artillery battalions located near their plantations if they do not register.

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