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Myanmar imposes harsher penalties on illicit traders
Publication Date : 12-08-2013
The Myanmar government is set to launch a new regulation-enforcement initiative today to control illegal imports and exports especially through overseas trade routes.
It will adopt harsher punishments, such as three-year imprisonment for illegal exports/imports under the new Export-Import Law (2012), Tin Ye Win, a director general at the commerce ministry, told a press conference in Yangon on August 9.
Under the new programme, illicit imports and exports will be monitored at every port of entry point, starting from August 12, but punishments will be enforced only from September 1.
Meanwhile, the Central Committee of Control of Illegal Trade Control is required to raise awareness and educate the stakeholders about the initiative.
Consumerists welcomed the government’s move saying it will reduce of the harmful goods in the market illegally imported through over sea trade routes.
Preventing illegal trade will present a good image especially when President Thein Sein visits foreign countries and discuss bilateral trade cooperation, said Tin Ye Win, who is also the central committee member of control of illegal trade.
In the past seven months, the committee’s mobile teams seized a total of illegal goods worth 6 billion kyats (US$6.18 million). The offenders were then charged certain amount of money, but they were not given any severe punishments.
Monetary punishments under the overseas trade law were not effective to curb such dishonest activities, Tin Ye Win noted.
When the problem continues due to ineffective mechanism, some people alleged committee members are corrupt taking bribes from illicit traders. However, investigations into these allegations have proved the innocence and integrity of the committee members for which even the president also praised, Tin Ye Win said.
“Looking at bribery cases, it is found that only some government officials are dismissed. Bribing merchants weren’t charged even a small amount of penalty. Both parties should be punished in reality. Actually, although our committee is continuously seizing illegal goods, the traders easily claim back their goods by paying some penalties. It really disheartens us,” he noted.