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Written by Narinjara News
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 00:00

Sittwe: A lawmaker from the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party says he and his colleagues will question the Arakan State Parliament on the two main issues which continue to push people in Arakan State into poverty - illegal land confiscations and taxations. “The State Parliament has informed us in a letter that the coming session of the parliament will be held in a similar manner to the Peoples’ or the National Parliament in Naypyitaw, so we have been asked to prepare the questions we would like to ask. We plan to ask questions on the two main issues that make the people of the Arakan State suffer from poverty”, said U Aung Mra Kyaw, an MP of State Parliament elected from Sittwe Township.

He said the lawmakers from his party plan to ask questions on the land confiscations and unofficial taxations undertaken by armed forces and authoritative departments in their region.

“The first issue is the fact that the authorities’ armed forces and departments have unnecessarily confiscated thousands acres of farmlands in Arakan State and they have been leading businesses such as land leasing and shrimp farming on those confiscated lands. As a result, the local Arakanese peoples have become landless and have been facing trouble in sustaining themselves. So, we plan to ask if the government has any plans to solve this problem as a first question to the parliament”, he said.

“There are now five groups of departmental officials collecting unofficial toll taxes from the people in the capital Sittwe and the situation is far worse in rural areas. They have been demanding these unofficial taxations under various titles such as port fees, market fees and municipal taxes. As a result, the people in our state have become troubled by the heavy load of taxes and we will ask the parliament how the government plans to stop such unofficial taxations in our state as the second main question.”

U Aung Mra Kyaw said that those unofficial taxations have caused suffering not only to the people, but also to the country because those revenues have been collected by the departmental officials and armed forces’ personnel not for the country, but for their own profit.

According to local residents, despite their repeated complaints, the central government in Naypyitaw, as well as their regional government has been neglecting to stop their forces and departments from collecting the unofficial taxations from the peoples in their region.

In Arakan State’s second city Kyaukpru, the local people are also facing trouble as the municipal department in their city has auctioned off the quay commonly held for commuting.

Arakan State is known to be the second poorest state in poverty-stricken Burma. Despite this the municipal departments based in all towns of the state have increased their taxes, taking money even from peddlers in the villages and townships of Arakan State.

The lawmaker said his party has also been preparing other important questions to ask in the coming session of the parliament, the date for which has not been announced yet.
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