Saturday, 26 June 2010

Election funds generated by issuing two-wheeler licenses

For the Burmese junta in Kachin state, election funds are now being sourced by issuing new licenses to illegal two wheelers, said local sources.

In one week, over 600 million Kyats (over US$625,000 as of 1$ = 650 kyat) has been raked in from people owning unlicensed motorcycles and motorcycle rickshaws in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State alone, said a local reliable source close to the authorities.

Chinese motorcycle rickshaws are popular in Kachin's capital Myitkyina for local transportation. Photo: Kachin News Group.

The cheap and poor-quality Chinese two wheelers are imported illegally along the border in eastern Kachin State, bordering China’s southwestern Yunnan province.

The license fees depend on the type and make of vehicles ranging between 180,000 Kyat (US$277) and 260,000 Kyat (US$400) for a motorcycle, and between 500,000 Kyat (US$769) and 800,000 Kyat (US$1,231) for a motorcycle rickshaw, owners of unlicensed vehicles in the city said.

New car licenses are not issued in Kachin State but orders are out to seize unlicensed cars, said residents.

At the same time, over 60 Japanese cars mostly without license and its drivers have been detained in Myitkyina. The drivers face three years in prison, said sources close to the seized unlicensed car owners.

In Kachin State, the military community and officers mainly use unlicensed Japanese cars but it is never confiscated by the authorities.

Unlicensed vehicles are being detained in Manmaw, or Bhamo, the second largest city in Kachin State since last week, said Zau Awng, a local resident.

In Kachin state, people are reluctant to make licenses because the fees are very high being nearly equal to the cost of the vehicles, and it is also difficult to acquire.

The order relating to issuing new licenses for vehicles excluding cars was announced early last week in Kachin State and will be wrapped up by June 30 by the Myitkyina Tax and Custom Office. The order also warns that all unlicensed two wheelers in the city will be confiscated as the nation’s property starting from July 1.

The junta desperately needs funds for the first elections in 20 years. The order to generate funds is on instructions of Burmese military leaders in Naypyitaw, the country’s capital.

Chinese vehicles, mainly motorcycles and motorcycle rickshaws are transported largely to military-ruled Burma from the illegal border trade points in Kachin State.

Seizure of unlicensed vehicles in Kachin State is noticed when urgent funds are need in Naypyitaw.

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