at least three townships in Mon State are levying taxes from paddy farmers to pay for army rations,

Farmers struggling as authorities collect paddy tax in Mon State
Fri 23 Jan 2009, Mon Son, IMNA
Authorities in at least three townships in Mon State are levying taxes from paddy farmers to pay for army rations, say local sources. Farmers are being required to pay 1,000 kyat per acre, presenting difficulties as the farmers struggle with unusually low paddy prices.

Affected townships include Chaung zone, Mudon and Paung. All villages in Paung Township have already paid their tax. At least 2 villages in Chaung zone and 3 in Mudon have paid as well. According to a farmer in Doe-mar village, Mudon Township, village headman and authorities from the land service department are collecting the tax.

The collection is an annual event, though the tax this year is mercifully lower than in the past. According to reports from last year, farmers were made to pay1,500 kyat per acre or 1 basket of paddy. In 2007, instead of collecting money authorities forced farmers to sell paddy at half its market value.

Paddy prices are unusually low this year, however, creating problems for farmers struggling to turn a profit from their meager crop; 100 baskets of paddy currently sell for 100,000 kyat less than they did in January 2008.

Authorities in Mudon have been unwilling to take paddy in lieu of a cash payment, say farmers. “Even though I want to pay with paddy, the authorities will not accept the paddy,” said the farmer in Doe-Mar, who paid 1,000 kyat per acre.

Another farmer in Mudon said that the army is reluctant to collect paddy because it wants to use the money to instead purchase paddy elsewhere in Burma, where prices are even lower. The Bangladesh based Naranjara News recently reported that paddy is selling for 120,000 kyat per 100 baskets. In Mon State, 100 baskets of the lowest quality paddy currently fetch 300,000 kyat.

A source close to the village headman in Youngdoung village, Mudon Township, meanwhile, explained the preference for cash over paddy as based upon a desire to avoid the cost of transporting the rice.

Farmers in Chaung zone and Paung Townships, however, report that though they were ordered to pay with cash they have been able to pay 2 baskets of paddy per acre instead.

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