Rakhine businesses vow not to pay Arakan Army ‘tax’

Rakhine businesses vow not to pay Arakan Army ‘tax’

Businessmen in strife-torn northern Rakhine State will not pay taxes to the Arakan Army (AA), a local business leader said on Sunday.

“We know AA is planning to collect tax but most of the business people here will not give in to their demand,” U Ba Tint of the Rakhine Entrepreneurs Association said. “Because of the frequent clashes, most businesses lost money.”

U Ba Tint noted that foreign investments are hardly flowing into Rakhine and government projects have been suspended because of the fighting.

“The Arakan Army is trying to raise funds to sustain its military. We support neither the military nor ethnic armed groups in their efforts to raise funds to buy weapons. People have suffered enough.”

U Khine Thukha, spokesperson of the AA, said it plans to collect taxes to fund its revolution. AA will start taxing businesses and infrastructure projects in the areas where it operates starting in 2020.

“We don’t know when the taxation will start, but it will not include people living on daily wages. It will only be imposed on infrastructure projects and big businesses. They must pay taxes and their businesses will not be harmed. It’s not about the amount, but every one of them needs to pay taxes,” he said.

U Khine Thukha said taxation is being instituted in Rakhine to strengthen the trust between the Rakhine people and the United League of Arakan, the AA’s political arm.

The AA may also impose a 50 percent tax on the income of police officers and MPs.

“The reason we don’t attack police stations is because we do not want to harm those who are carrying out their duties to serve the people,” he said. “But police stations that interfere with the Rakhine Public Authority will not be tolerated. The officers and staff working in Rakhine State must be under the Rakhine Public Authority, he said. It is holding hostage several civil servants, including soldiers, police officers, a prison official and a member of the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House).

Fighting between government forces and the AA, which broke out in November 2018, has displaced thousands of people in Rakhine and adjacent Chin State.

The AA, which was established in 2009 and is comprised mostly of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, seeks more autonomy from the central government.

From: Myanmar Times