NLD economist questions effectiveness of new tax bill

The recently unveiled 2018 tax bill that had caused quite a firestorm in Myanmar is widely considered to be an abomination for many skeptics; even the believers are tentative at best.

It comes as no surprise that the bill, Section 25 in particular that would see tax collected from intangible assets and unidentified sources of income reduced to a mere 3 to 5 percent, is now coming under fire from industry experts.

Economist and member of National League for Democracy (NLD)’s economic committee Dr Aung Ko Ko spoke exclusively to The Daily Eleven that the author behind Section 25 will be responsible for enormous amounts of ‘black’ money that would crash into Myanmar from malicious organizations such as the terror group Islamic State.

He claimed that while it’s true intentions might be to invite more FDI, the consequences could be disastrous as the economy on a national scale could at best be manipulated and taken over and at worst, totally plunge into chaos.

“…FDIs need to be actually beneficial to the country’s development. We cannot allow international investments that would greatly destabilize price of commodities, harm natural environments and those that would seek to subvert our traditions and cultures as well as those that would pose a direct risk to National Security. Frankly speaking, Section 25 should completely be dropped from the bill,” said Dr Aung Ko Ko.

Dr Aung Ko Ko went on to state that this poor attempt to boost the country’s currently turbulent economy might actually be counterproductive as every business that has been legally paying their due taxes would now have more of an incentive to dodge them.

He also allegedly accused the unknown architect behind the bill that somehow managed to add in Section 25 without the knowledge of the NLD’s Central Economic Committee, of ignoring the big elephant in the room that is money laundering.

Even if the 3 to 5 percent tax amnesty was enough to sway tax dodgers to come clean, the unseen yet predictable risks are just too high, according to him.

Dr Aung Ko Ko said “…part of the economic committee but we never get to know in advance. It would be a mistake to treat this 3 to 5 percent as a ‘hail-mary’ move to save the flailing economy. It will just become a legal mean for money laundering activities. If organizations seeking to launder are malicious in nature, it might not be as bad but it will always either be terror organizations or huge business groups looking to put a stranglehold on the entire country’s economy. There is also a need to adjust alongside current extent money laundering laws.”

As the 2018 tax bill becomes the highlight of the citizen’s ire In relation to this issue, February 23 2018 issue of the State-ran Kyemon (The Mirror) Newspaper contained an opinion piece by an unnamed “Lower House MP from the 1st parliaments” that argued in support of the controversial Section 25.

Ever since the article was published, it has come under fire for not addressing the tremendous risks it involved but instead sticking to the possible benefits it may bring by comparing data from other countries such as Singapore and Indonesia.

Source : Eleven Myanmar

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