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Local authorities skim money off farm subsidies

May 28, 2008 (DVB), Farmers in Zee Gone township, Bago division, have been forced to give almost one fifth of their state agricultural loans to local authorities, a local farmer said.

A farmer from Nwartehgone village said the authorities were demanding 1500 kyat for each of the thousands of acres of farmlands in the area.

"The actual agricultural loan given to us by the government for one acre of cultivation is 8000 kyat but local authorities are cutting 1500 kyat from each acre," the farmer said.

"They told us we had to pay 700 kyat to the township authorities, 300 kyat for ballot station expenses, 200 kyat for cyclone victims and the rest goes to the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation’s funds and the government’s custard plant growing program," he said.

"But our village Peace and Development Council chairman used the money from the cyclone victims' fund for himself and then took another 200 kyat from us to replace it."

The farmer said locals were also being forced to grow summer paddy, which is unlikely to produce a successful crop.

"The village PDC chairman is controlling our lives as he has close ties with the township PDC," the farmer said.

"He forces us to grow crops that won't make any profit for us and he destroys our farmlands under various pretexts when we don’t give him the money he demands," he said.

"Some farmers have complained about the village PDC chairman to the Union Solidarity and Development Association and the township PDC but they have not taken any action against him."

Zee Gone township PDC office and the local branch of the state Agricultural Bank were unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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