Clampdown catches Mon betel traders

Betel nut wholesalers in Mon State’s Ye township said a number of government departments are checking their bonafides with a crackdown on illegal imports from Thailand.

“Authorities at checkpoints entering Bago Region cannot tell our betel nuts and Thailand’s nuts apart, so they are stopping our trucks and delaying our trade,” said wholesaler U Aung Than Naing.

Wholesalers are being asked to show a number of documents from bodies such as the Township General Administrative Department, the agricultural ministry, the Internal Revenue Department and the Ward General Administrative Department, to prove the betel is locally produced and not imported.

“Even when we show these documents, they keep asking us to show other documents. It is delaying our trade,” said Aung Than Naing.

“The authorities at the checkpoints say some betel traders are importing from Thailand without paying tax – so they should seize those nuts.”

Ko Win Thein said the move represents a departure from previous policies allowing free internal shipment of betel. He added traders have not received official notices from government departments that they must obtain additional documents, but rather it is the checkpoints that are demanding them.

“We are so disappointed that we need also these documents before we can distribute nuts,” he said. “I will keep going with my business at the moment because we can get these documents at a township level, but if we are told to go to the state level, I will stop my business.”

Wholesalers said they are not sure why betel nut imported from Thailand is not simply checked at the border, rather than internally.

“The can check imports when they enter – there is no need to have to show documents at the gate to Bago Region when shipping betel nuts to Yangon,” said Ko Aung Than Naing. “It’s simply causing delays.”

There are a number of producers clustered in Mon State’s Ye, Thanbyuzayat, Mudon and Mawlamyine townships, and Kayin State’s Kyain Seikgyi township.

Source: Myanmar Times

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