Some business owners in Namkham Township have closed their operations because they cannot afford the exorbitant taxes that they say the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has imposed on them. The TNLA is fighting the regime, but is also in a long-standing conflict with the Restoration Council of Shan State over territory in northern Shan State.
A businessman told SHAN that the TNLA invited business owners in the township, including local regime representatives, to a meeting in Ho Ner village last month. The Ta’ang soldiers told them that they are expected to start paying them annual taxes, depending on the size of their business, but usually between 1 million kyat ($600) and 10 million kyat ($6K).
The TNLA started collecting the taxes in early December.
Another male source told SHAN he heard a cloth shop was asked to pay 2 million kyat and a warehouse 10 million kyat. ”From me, they asked for half a million kyat ($300). Actually, my shop is very small and business was very bad during the pandemic and political crisis. I want to run away from here.”
“They (the TNLA) have distributed their business cards in the market along with a letter demanding taxes. They are demanding a lot of money which we cannot afford. That is why some people have closed their shops and are hiding,” says a female shopkeeper from Namkham Myoma market.
TNLA spokesperson Maj Mai Aik Kyaw rejected the allegations that they’re charging more than people can pay. ”We will not cause trouble for the people,” he said, pointing out that they have already been collecting taxes every year in the township and wherever its troops are stationed.
”Some people who want to support us pay us taxes directly, but others only pay when we ask them to.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, business in Namkham town, which lies on the Chinese border, has been severely affected as it relies on exports and imports to and from China, which has closed the border. The coup has exacerbated this problem.