Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Amid crackdown on vendors, MCDC to review tax collection

Amid a local government crackdown on sidewalk vendors in Mandalay, city authorities say the long-held procedure of outsourcing tax collection efforts to a private company will need to be reviewed next year, as the new policy seeking to reduce roadside congestion is fuelling tension on the city’s streets.

Vendors in Mandalay are coming under greater scrutiny from MCDC. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar TimesVendors in Mandalay are coming under greater scrutiny from MCDC. Photo: Si Thu Lwin / The Myanmar Times

For over a year now Mandalay City Development Committee has been stepping up its efforts to clean up the city’s sidewalks. MCDC’s clearing department has been checking that vendors have proper licences to sell their wares, while also clearing small shop sellers from areas that authorities say have become too congested.

“When taking action, we do not close the shops, we fine them,” U Soe Tint Aung, head of the MCDC’s clearing department.

After an initial warning, vendors can be fined between K10,000 and K50,000, he said. In this financial year alone, fines have already totalled K9 million, U Soe Tint Aung added, with over 450 fines handed out to vendors across six Mandalay townships, including Aung Myay Tharzan, Chan Aye Tharzan and Maha Aung Myay.

However enforcement of the clean-up policy has forced a re-think of tax collection, as collectors, outsourced to private companies each financial year through a tender process, have been claiming tax in areas where vendors are prohibited from trading. This has created confusion among sellers who receive fines, or are chased out of areas they believe they have paid taxes for and therefore have a right to stay in.

“When the MCDC staff come to arrest us, we have to flee from the place and pack all my things, but it shouldn’t happen while I do my business and pay tax,” a vendor in Aung Myay Tharzan township, who said he paid K200 per day in taxes said yesterday. “Sometimes my property and goods have been seized when I am arrested and I have to pay a fine to get back my things,” he added, asking not to be named.

U Win Maung, head of the Revenue Department, said the situation would need to be reported up to the “upper level” for review, as the process was currently not working.

“Not only are the tax collectors not allowed to collect tax on the main road, but vendors are not allowed to sell there, according to the rules,” he said. “The tax cannot be collected at places where committee has disallowed vendors”.

Translation by San Layy