Hoteliers claim to face double taxes for liquor licences

Hotels that serve liquor are groaning under the burdens of taxation and red tape, hoteliers have complained, as police raided hotels in Bagan on suspicion of importing alcohol illegally.

U tin win, chair of the Yangon hotel zone established by the Myanmar hoteliers’ association, said the raids were the result of a misunderstanding over conflicting lines of authority. “Home affairs said these hotels had not applied for a liquor license, but we believe the responsible authority is the ministry of hotels and tourism, which regulates their functioning,” he said.

Hotels have to pay 5 percent income tax to the internal revenue department, annual licence fees of about k1.2 million to home affairs, and 25pc commercial tax to ministry of commerce. “One of these three taxes should be abolished, but no department wants to give it up,” he said.

U tin win also complained of the complexity of the licensing process for liquor importing.

U Aung Zaw win, director general of the directorate of hotels and tourism, said his department kept a strict watch on hotel liquor imports, which were granted for only two months at a time, with strict conditions.

Last December, amid a spate of crackdowns on illegally imported alcohol, the tourism ministry decreed that hotels should import liquor directly themselves, without assigning their permit to distributors, after the government found that some big importers were using the names of hotels.

U Aung Zaw win said not more than 10 out of about 1000 hotels in Myanmar had requested ministry approval to import alcohol direct last year, while others bought from local suppliers, he said.

Each of the 10 had imported 200 to 500 bottles at a time, or less than 1pc of the amount supplied by the biggest local supplier. Some foreign-owned hotels directly imported themselves, while joint-venture or locally owned hotels imported through local suppliers, he said.

“Hotels have to comply with our policy that they should not sell their import permit to local suppliers,” said u aung zaw win.

Daw May Myat Mon Win, general manager of Yangon’s Chatrium hotel, said they did not have any problems with either alcohol supply or the payment of taxes.

U Tin Myint, an official of the Myanmar hoteliers’ association, said his members feared liquor licence fees would rise this year. “The prices of food and other services in hotels is more than double those outside, so liquor is not much consumed, but we need to be able to sell as much as customers want,” he said.

In 2012-2013 fiscal years, hotels imported about us$124,000 worth of alcohol on the basis of a letter of recommendation issued from the ministry of hotels and tourism.

As of November 2013, the figure for 2013-2014 was $123,000, ministry statistics say.


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