Liquor sector among the latest COVID-19 casualty in local economy

Almost all liquor-related businesses in Yangon Region have closed and about 40 percent of liquor stores are likely to be permanently suspended, said U Myo Min Aung, chair of the Myanmar Beverages Merchants Association.

“Most pubs and liquor stores had reopened after the first wave of COVID-19. Sales had yet to return to normal then, but now, things are worse than the first time,” he said.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions such as the longstanding curfew and ban on mass gatherings, pubs and liquor stores were ordered to suspend operations since April.

Although many had unofficially reopened since, the recent outbreak has forced about 40pc of local liquor stores to go out of business.

“They cannot pay excise tax, other taxes, shop rental fees and labour charges. Consequently, many are heavily in debt and have been forced to close down,” said U Myo Min Aung.

“The authorities need to ease some restrictions for the liquor sector,” he said, adding that other forms of relief could come in allowing liquor license fees and taxes to be paid in instalments. The liquor sector has to pay taxes of 60 percent of tax in addition to hefty license fees.

The developments come after the Ministry of Commerce lifted an almost total ban on foreign alcohol imports in May, following which Myanmar businesses holding stockpiles of illegally imported alcohol were given the opportunity to legalise their goods by paying tax.

By obtaining a government A1 tax stamp before an August 28 deadline, businesses were able to legalise stocks of foreign alcohol imported illegally before restrictions were lifted in May, the Internal Revenue Department said. The businesses were obliged to pay taxes and duties on the goods amounting to about 60 percent of their retail value.

Officials issued 9389 liquor licenses in Yangon Region in fiscal 2018-19, according to the Yangon Region Security and Border Affairs Minister. Myanmar is estimated
to have received K1.3 billion in excise taxes in this year.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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