Officials spared fines in corruption crackdown

Oct 7, 2008 (DVB), Authorities in Meikhtila have provoked anger among local business owners by cracking down on those who buy electricity illegally while the military officers who supply them have gone unpunished.

Business owners who use electricity from the 30 army compounds in Meikhtila have complained that they are being fined several hundred thousand kyat while no action has been taken against the army officers who are selling this electricity, according to local residents and business owners.

One local resident said that local business owners, civil servants and market traders were being fined while the military officials escaped punishment.

"In truth, it is the army who are at fault. It is being taken directly from the transformer but it is the army that is operating it," the resident said.

"There are many sawmills, ice factory and rice husk oil factory. The army is supplying them. Don’t they have any responsibility?" he said.

"They are punishing only business owners. They are not punishing those responsible."

The factories have been giving money to military authorities and using electricity from inside the army compounds for many years because of the shortage of electricity in Meikhtila's industrial zone, locals said.

Business owners have been fined up to 1 million kyat for using electricity from the army compounds instead of the industrial zone, with authorities reportedly collecting 40 million kyat in fines in a single day.

The crackdown on the use of illegal electricity supplies began early this month and is being led by colonel Min Khaing, based on an order by the state electricity company which was issued eight months ago.

Business owners allege that the order was intentionally not made public to allow the authorities to make more money in fines.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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