Coup regime pressures restaurants to pay alcohol tax as it feels the squeeze from economic turmoil, boycotts 

The military council has started asking liquor stores and restaurants to pay alcohol taxes and is threatening to revoke their alcohol licences if they are unable to, vendors have said. 

One restaurant owner from Kawlin, Sagaing Region, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has not paid tax for over a year because of restaurant closures caused by the pandemic.

“We haven’t been able to open our shops for almost two years now,” he said. “We had to let a lot of our staff members go as well. Amidst all that, they’ve decided to threaten to revoke our alcohol licenses if we don’t pay the taxes.” 

He will not pay taxes to the junta, he added. “They’re going to use the money we pay as taxes to kill us, so I’ve decided not to pay them. They can revoke my license all they want. I don’t have the money and even if I did, I still wouldn’t be paying any taxes.”

A bar owner from South Dagon Township in Yangon said that authorities have been sending letters with orders to pay alcohol taxes and that some owners have requested an extension to the deadline due to financial difficulties.

There are dozens of types of tax brackets for alcohol, he said. “They can come and shut down our shops if they find out we have not been paying the tax. They could destroy us if they wanted to.” 

Eight ministries and the Naypyitaw city council have been trying recently to collect 22 different types of taxes under orders from the junta, which has seen many of its revenue sources disrupted by local and international movements to starve it of funding. 

Many of those protesting the coup have refused to pay their electricity and water bills in order to disrupt the junta’s governance mechanisms. A nationwide boycott of the junta-controlled lottery and products made by military companies is also underway. 

The deputy commander-in-chief of the military. General Soe Win, said during an August 24 budget conference that the state’s income has been plummeting due to both the pandemic and damage to the commercial sector. He suggested that state income could decrease further over the coming six months.

Numerous international companies have pulled out of Myanmar or reduced their investments amid the turmoil caused by the military’s February 1 power grab. 

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