Econ­o­mist U Saw Naing calls for an ef­fec­tive tax col­lec­tion sys­tem

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS/ LAST WEEK IN NAY PYI TAW -

Econ­o­mist U Saw Naing told par­tic­i­pants at the Post Bud­get Con­sul­ta­tion on Myan­mar 2015-2016 meet­ing that tax re­form and more ef­fec­tive ways to bring in in­come were needed to help bal­ance the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment’s books.

Speak­ing at the Post Bud­get Con­sul­ta­tion on Myan­mar 20152016 in Yan­gon on May 24, he said every­body should know about the coun­try’s bud­get, stress­ing the need for a “cit­i­zens bud­get” and trans­parency with gov­ern­ment spend­ing.

The meet­ing was jointly or­ga­nized by the Na­tional Eco­nomic and So­cial Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil Myan­mar (NESAC), Union of Myan­mar Fed­er­a­tion of Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try (UMFCCI), and Ac­tion Aid Myan­mar.

Ac­tion Aid Myan­mar has been work­ing on eco­nomic lit­er­acy and public ser­vice fi­nanc­ing in or­der to en­sure a pro-poor bud­get, par­tic­i­pa­tory bot­tom-up plan­ning, trans­parency and the strength­en­ing of the ca­pac­ity of state and non-state ac­tors in Myan­mar.

About 200 gov­ern­ment and non-state play­ers dis­cussed the gov­ern­ment’s 2015-16 fis­cal year bud­get, look­ing at how the bud­get was al­lo­cated, how it is be­ing used for na­tional devel­op­ment, and the per­cent­age growth in sec­tor al­lo­ca­tion. Ac­tion Aid runs meet­ings on the bud­get prior to the bud­get be­ing brought in, and as here, af­ter its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment has long come in for crit­i­cism over its high spend­ing on de­fence and low out­lay for ed­u­ca­tion and health.

Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, U Saw Naing high­lighted how gov­ern­ment spend­ing had shot up in some of the eth­nic states since Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein came to power in 2011. He showed the big leaps in spend­ing in the Kayah and Shan states.

He high­lighted the pres­i­dent’s in­sis­tence on ef­forts to al­le­vi­ate poverty, given the coun­try’s gen­er­ally low in­ter­na­tional poverty rank­ing.

U Saw Naing pointed out the ways to fi­nance the bud­get deficit. His list in­cluded sell­ing gov­ern­ment bonds, bor­row­ing from abroad, sell­ing state as­sets, print­ing money and mak­ing sure the gov­ern­ment has a good tax sys­tem.

He pointed out that the per­cent­age of GDP de­rived from taxes is ris­ing.

U Saw Naing said that main­tain­ing a bal­anced bud­get in­volves ei­ther re­duc­ing ex­pen­di­ture or rais­ing rev­enues, pri­mar­ily through tax, keep­ing in mind the need for tax re­forms to bring in more in­come and tighter law en­force­ment to en­sure peo­ple and com­pa­nies pay their tax.

The se­ri­ous sub­ject was not with­out a touch of hu­mour, how­ever, as he high­lighted a well-known proverb: “Noth­ing is cer­tain but death and taxes.”

His over­all mes­sage was that Myan­mar has to get se­ri­ous about its tax sys­tem and tax col­lec­tion.

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