Yangon MPs call for crackdown on shady foreign business operators
THE Yangon Region parliament is considering increasing scrutiny on foreign businesspeople who operate illegally.
Parliament debated a proposal from MP U Win Maung (NLD; Hlaing Tharyar 1) on October 10 that would have the government take action against foreign operators of illegal businesses.
Regional Planning and Finance Minister U Myint Thaung told parliament that such businesspeople will be jailed if they are found to be breaking existing laws. Foreigners are illegally operating real estate agencies, bars, restaurants, guest houses, multi-level marketing schemes and health clinics, he said.
“There are a lot of laws that we could use against them but we need more enforcement,” he said.
The Union government should take up this issue as well, he said, because it is happening all across the country, and not just in the commercial capital.
MP U Hla Htay (NLD; Mingalar Taung Nyunt 1) said that foreigners should respect the country’s laws. Their illegal businesses are impacting the country’s income tax, he said.
“Myanmar citizens’ businesses were destroyed by their illegal business,” he said. “And we need to know their visa types. Also, the salaries of legal and illegal foreign businessmen are more than triple a Myanmar citizen’s.”
MP U Nay Naing Oo (NLD; Twante) said that some foreign business owners are operating under the names of Myanmar citizens. The government should investigate and take severe action, he said.
U Win Maung said that as of June 20 there were about 100 foreign real estate agencies that were operating without licences and related permissions from the relevant ministries, most of them Chinese and Korean.
The so-called “K5K shops” – peddling goods priced at a flat K5000 and typically owned by Chinese nationals – have proliferated this year without licences from Yangon City Development Committee and related authorities, he added. Some foreign-owned bars and KTVs are also suspect.
“Now the MPs are looking into how the K5K shops wound up in Myanmar and if they are paying taxes,” U Win Maung said.
According to the Yangon Region government, they received K61.298 billion (US$48.2 million) in taxes from 6596 foreigners working in the city in the 2015-16 fiscal year.