Thursday, July 27, 2017

Telegraphs to give motorbike importers a technological leg up

Traders are now able to use telegraphs to speed up motorbike imports, according to U Myint Thein, deputy minister of Rail Transportation.

Motorbikes crowd the streets of Mandalay. Photo: StaffMotorbikes crowd the streets of Mandalay. Photo: Staff

While much of Myanmar has been caught up with the beginnings of an internet boom, with three modern telcos and a swath of tech startups now operating, officials are counting on a technology which came into its own in the 1830s to ease the process of importing motorbikes.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce at a session of the Pyithu Hluttaw, U Myint Thein said motorbike importers previously had to travel to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ office in Nay Pyi Taw to receive an import licence.

“Now motorbike import licences can be granted at the border gate by sending a telegram to [government offices] from the border gate,” he said.

The move comes as the government looks to regulate a growing number of vehicles on the road and stem illegal trading.

Government officials had been cracking down on illegal motorbike imports during the first half of the year.

U Myint Thein said importing licences for motorbikes are now cheap, costing a 5 percent import tax and additional 5pc custom fee. However, the penalty for not properly licensing imports is steep – up to 50pc of the total price of the motorbike.

Some parliamentarians said they oppose high tax penalties that could hit the poorer people.

Pyithu Hluttaw member U Myint Soe said motorbike owners could face tax penalties for driving without licences and meeting other requirements, adding the penalties are often too expnsive.

U Myint Thein said in response that high fines are meant to ensure people follow the road rules and decrease accidents.

Still, Nay Pyi Taw area official U Win Swe, who is tasked with overseeing motor vehicles in the capital, said it is important to promote safer driving and also issue driving licences in line with the increased number of vehicles on the road, as some people are prone to driving recklessly.

Translated by Khant Lin Oo