Shan State authorities ramp up efforts to legalise border trade
TRADERS used to smuggling their goods over the border in Shan State without paying their dues are now being encouraged to pay taxes, no questions asked. The revenue-producing measure is part of a drive to expand the scope of legal trading around the border posts leading to China, officials say.
U Min Aung, the representative of the Illegal Trade Prevention and Supervision Control Committee in Shan State, said the local authorities had launched the effort to turn informal trade into legal trade last August as a matter of policy. Trade officials, the media, police, customs and customer affairs are working together on the project.
“One approach we’re pursuing is to collect taxes on illegally traded products as a first step to legalis- ing trade. This helps us cut losses. We don’t confiscate, seize or destroy the products, or fine the traders – we just collect the tax,” he said. “Although the third time we do it, we investigate to try to go further up the chain.”
The Shan State Hluttaw has proposed cracking down on smuggling to reduce corruption at the borer.
The government set up the Illegal Trade Prevention and Supervision Control Committee, covering three states and regions, to try to reduce local produce being smuggled through border posts.
“Where representatives have been assigned, import and export licences are legally applied for,” U Min Aung said. “When traders pay their taxes illegal trade declines.”
Export and import licences now cover new types of goods, including electronics, which had not been listed before. Traders whose current licence does not cover all their activities have been invited to reapply.
Illegal trade falls when traders aware of and commit to their tax obligations, U Min Aung said.
“If they are trading 500 items, they report 500 items. Before, they would sell 450 items and declare and pay tax on just 200,” he said, adding that the traders wanted to cooperate to become legitimate, so long as government did its part.
Mai Yu trade supervision gate collected more than K27 million in taxes from a trading volume of more than K1.378 billion between the end of August and October 20.
At Tachileik gate, tax amounted to more than K3.231 billion, and a further K140 million at Tachileik No 1 bridge. More than K53 million was collected at Kyaingtong/ Kengtung township as of October 20, customs authorities said.
– Translation by San Layy