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Jun 26, 2008 (DVB), On the pretext of helping cyclone-affected farmers resume their rice cultivation, authorities have been collecting money and paddy in Irrawaddy division and other areas, locals said.
A resident of Ain Mae township told DVB that township Peace and Development Council chairperson Thein Win was collecting money and paddy from farmers living in 97 village tracts and 5 wards.
"Chairperson Thein Win ordered each village tract to give 100 tin of paddy (approximately 6,400 kg) and a buffalo for cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy farmers," said the resident.
"According to that directive, village PDC chairpersons are collecting 2 tin of paddy and 5,000 kyat from each farmer and 7,000 kyat from non-farmer," he continued.
A farmer from Thanatpin township in Bago division said that authorities there were also collecting money from local farmers for the same reason by making deductions from agricultural loans.
"The subtraction varied based of the number of households in village and the size of paddy field farmers possessed. Some villages had 100,000, 200,000 kyat deducted," said the Thanapin farmer.
"In terms of paddy land, some farmers has 200, 400 kyat deducted for each acre while some has 2, 3,000 kyat subtracted no matter how many acres of paddy they were growing," explained the farmer.
Another resident from Thanapin added that authorities had also collected money from businessmen and domestic buses.
"Some of the shops have to pay 10,000, 20,000 kyat but others only have to pay 5,000," the resident said.
"In Kamarsae, a boat owner has to pay 5,000 kyat. In Thanapin, domestic bus owners have to pay as much as 10,000 kyat, otherwise they are not allowed to take passengers," he went on.
Based on the type of business they own some have to pay 3, 400,000 kyat."
Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet