New  report  reveals  ‘The  Hidden  Impact  of  Burma’s  Arbitrary  and  Corrupt  Taxation’     The  Network  for

 Human  Rights  Documentation-­‐  Burma  (ND-­‐Burma)  released  its  first  report,  “We  have  to   give   them   so   much   that   our   stomachs   are   empty   of   food:   The   Hidden   Impact   of   Burma’s   Arbitrary   and   Corrupt   Taxation.”     Based   on   342   interviews,   the   report   reveals   how   widespread,   arbitrary   taxation   damages   the   country’s   economy,   exacerbates   poverty,   and   contributes   to   the   ongoing   and   systematic   violation  of  the  people’s  most  basic  right  to  an  adequate  standard  of  living,  housing,  and  education.       ND-Burma’s report reveals how the Burma’s ruling military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and its supporting agencies are responsible for this repressive taxation system which includes the appropriation of non-monetary assets including the arbitrary confiscation of land, property and forced labor, indicating serious breaches of international laws.   While  the  majority  of  the  people  of  Burma  live  in  abject  poverty,  the  regime  spends  a  paltry  (CIA)  1.3%     of   GDP   on   health   and   education,   and   Burma   is   the   only   country   in   the   region   whose   military   budget   is   greater  than  that  of  health  and  education  combined.1       ND   Burma’s   research   revealed   that   households   and   businesses   are   excessively   taxed   leaving   more   and   more   people   struggling   to   survive.     Not   only   is   taxation   excessive   but   the   poor   administration   of   the   system  means  that  households  and  businesses  do  not  know  when  taxes  have  to  be  paid  and  the  size  of   their  tax  liabilities.    This  is  coupled  with  a  system  of  government  expenditure  that  is  not  directed  towards   the  needs  of  Burma’s  population,  instead  resources  are  allocated  to  a  bloated  military  and  economically   wasteful  and  expensive  infrastructure  projects.       A   villager   from   Mon   State   describes   the   burden   of   taxation,   “On   average,   we   villagers   have   to   provide   military   government   organizations   with   more   than   10,000   Kyat   a   month   (≈10   USD).   Even   though   we   have  no  food  to  eat,  we  still  have  to  pay  them.  At  the  hands  of  the  SPDC  we  have  to  work  harder  but  we   still  have  not  enough  food  for  our  families.”     Mr.   Han   Gyi,   Coordinator   of   ND-­‐Burma   commented   on   the   report:   “This   report   also   reveals   the   pressing   need   for   recognition   of   the   wide   scale   human   rights   impact   of   the   arbitrary   and   corrupt   taxation   in   Burma.     Political   reforms   including   the   demobilization   of   soldiers   are   urgently   needed   if   the   present   system   of   taxation  is  to  cease,  along  with  action  from  the  international  community  to  support  a  Commission  of  Inquiry   (COI)  into  crimes  in  Burma.  We  have  almost  no  expectation  that  people’s  lives  will  improve  after  the  2010   elections  because  the  political  system  will  still  be  controlled  by  senior  military  personal  who  have  a  vested   interest   in   maintaining   a   large   standing   army.   Real   changes   to   the   people’s   livelihoods   will   only   happen   when   genuine   political   reform   takes   place   and   democratic   systems   are   developed   that   give   people   the   opportunity  to  influence  taxation  and  expenditure  decisions,  the  rights  to  private  property,  when  extortion  is   brought  under  control,  and  people’s  representatives  are  chosen  freely  and  fairly  and  then  are  answerable  to   their  communities.”    
For more information:
Burmese Interviews Lway Dang Jar, ph: 082 225 1569 Ko Tate Naing – ph: 081 287 8751 English Interviews – Ms. Cheery Zahau, ph: 084 921 3423 Mr. Han Gyi, ph:081 961 5992

NT:  The  full  report  will  be  available  at  the  ND  Burma  website  http://www.nd-­‐  


Turnell, Sean. Burma's Economic Watch Burma's Economy 2010, Reforms, and the 'Sanctions Question', 2009 December.

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