Huge tax rise on loudspeakers

Oct 25, 2007 (DVB), Authorities in Aung Lan township, Magwe division, have raised the annual tax on loudspeakers this week from 150 kyat to 15,000 kyat, according to local residents.

Locals told DVB that the decision to raise the tax was taken by Aung Lan township peace and development council's motion and sound committee.

Loudspeakers are used widely in Burma, particularly in villages, to pass on important information to the community, to broadcast public prayers and for advertising. As they are viewed by the government as sensitive items, all owners must be registered and pay an annual tax.

There are approximately 40 loudspeakers in Aung Lan itself, and hundreds in the villages in the township territory, local residents said.

One loudspeaker owner in Aung Lan said that while the tax rise is not too much of a burden on video-theater business owners, as they make money from their daily audiences, it makes it difficult for loudspeaker rental businesses who can only rent their speakers during festival time and have little income at other times.

The loudspeaker owner added that monasteries and community groups would also be affected by the increase.

"They are also charging tax on loudspeakers owned by monasteries, pagodas and other social associations," he said.

Reporting by Maung Too

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