MoC searches for toll gate so­lu­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Business - ZAY YAR LINN za­yarlinn@mm­ SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Kyawt Darly Linn and Thiri Min Htun

THE Min­istry of Con­struc­tion has al­ready closed more than half of the 300 road and bridge toll­gates it has built, and is look­ing for ways to make up the lost rev­enue that would re­sult from plans to close the rest.

U Kyaw Lin, the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the min­istry, told The Myan­mar Times on Au­gust 8 that there were only 140 Min­istry of Com­merce-built gates left, and that num­ber would be re­duced fur­ther.

“Since this gov­ern­ment took of­fice, 161 toll gates on roads and bridges have been re­moved, leav­ing about 140 gates. We are seek­ing a so­lu­tion that would re­duce that num­ber fur­ther,” he said.

Toll gates that were not built by the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion, but by firms as part of a build-op­er­ate-trans­fer pro­ject, are un­af­fected.

Un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, there were 301 Min­istry of Con­struc­tion-built toll bridges and roads na­tion­wide and a ten­der in­vi­ta­tion was typ­i­cally made to the pri­vate sec­tor to col­lect the fees.

When the Na­tional League for Democ­racy gov­ern­ment took of­fice in April, the re­moval of toll­gates be­gan.

The re­main­ing 140 gates will bring in K24 bil­lion in rev­enue this year. In or­der to make up for that in­come, which would be lost if the re­main­ing toll­gates were closed, the min­istry is seek­ing a so­lu­tion that would al­low it to main­tain its bud­get for road and bridge ren­o­va­tions at cur­rent lev­els of state rev­enue.

“We’re look­ing at a gaso­line tax, as many other coun­tries have. In Ja­pan, the tax is 15 per­cent of the price of fuel, while other coun­tries levy 20pc, payable by any driver who uses the roads. If we col­lect K60 per litre, the rev­enue would be K200 bil­lion. We are now do­ing re­search on the likely ef­fects on com­mod­ity prices, to see if it would be ad­van­ta­geous and if peo­ple can ac­cept it,” he said.

The min­istry is also cal­cu­lat­ing whether the fruits of a fuel tax could pay for the re­pair of roads and bridges. Any such de­ci­sion would re­quire a high-level gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion.

U Soe Tun, chair of the Myan­mar Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Dis­trib­u­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, said, “I wel­come the news that the gov­ern­ment will re­duce the num­ber of toll gates. Levy­ing a fuel tax is a com­mon prac­tice over­seas, but I don’t know what per­cent­age they will as­sess. I think the tax should be col­lected to gen­er­ate rev­enue for the coun­try and to fund the re­pair of roads and bridges.”

Photo: AFP

A man crosses a busy road in Yan­gon in July.

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