YANGON—The import of Rolls Royce cars on the basis of “peace permits” has continued on the Myanmar-Thai border because cars covered with cloth are not easily noticed, locals say.
The luxury cars, which are worth about half a million US dollars (Ks 490.5 million), were previously imported without covers. However, the government has recently suffered criticism for allegedly trying to reach ceasefire deals by offering armed ethnic groups “peace permits,” which offer exemptions from paying tax on car imports.
Yesterday, two Rolls Royce cars and one Lexus car were imported under cover through Myawady Township, according to local sources. So far, about 20 Rolls Royce cars have been imported tax-free under the peace permits.
If a Roll Royce car worth around US$ 500,000 is normally imported, it can cost up to Ks 1.3 billion (US$ 1.34 million). The total amount of taxes alone for that car will be more than Ks 850 million (US$ 0.87 million), as the import tax may cost Ks 196 million. The commercial tax would be Ks 171.5 million and the tax to the road transport department Ks 489 million.
When such a Rolls Royce is imported with a peace permit, the total cost will be within Ks 550 million (US$ 570,000). In addition to Rolls Royce vehicles, Bentley cars are also imported through the Thai border.
Nevertheless, armed ethnic groups usually sell the peace permits for money. Peace permits are now priced at between Ks 50 million (US$ 51,000) and Ks 150 million (US$ 154,000), sources say.
It is the car brokers who bought peace permits from ethnic groups, and enjoyed tax exemptions of as high as Ks 850 million (US$ 0.87 million) for each import of a luxury car. Selling the permits to others will lead to a huge loss of internal revenue, and the ethnic groups gain only the market price for the peace permits, observers say.
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