Friday, 8 August 2008

Low Salaries Contribute to Corrupt Officials

Maungdaw (Narinjara): Officials from the bottom to the top of the chain of command in western Burma's Maungdaw Township are involved in corruption because the salary paid by the government is insufficient for their daily survival, said a retired officer from the immigration department.

He said, "In Maungdaw Township, all government servicemen are involved in corruption because they are unable to maintain their families' survival with a government salary."

U Hla Win, Chairman of Maungdaw District, is being interrogated by high officials after he collected 150,000 kyat from each village tract chairman in his district. He claimed the money would be used for the district office fund.

According to local official sources, U Hla Win went to Naypyidaw recently to address the problem before high military officials, but he is expected to be dismissed from his position.

Another high official from the taxation department is also now under a "Department Enquiry", as he sold government tax stamps to local businessmen at an inflated price.

"His name is Man Pound, the In-Charge of the taxation department, and he is now being interrogated by the high authority because he was selling government stamps to businessmen at double the price of the government determined rated," the retired official said.

He added, "It is not only those two officials but also other officials, including doctors, teachers, and custom officials, that are involved in corruption."

A trader from Maungdaw said that the average person needs at least 7,000 kyat to obtain a testimonial from a doctor in order to be admitted to the general hospital in Maungdaw. If someone is sick and unable to pay that amount, it will be impossible for them get admitted to the hospital for treatment.

The Maungdaw government hospital does not allow anyone to be hospitalized without a doctor's medical testimony.

At government schools of all levels in Maungdaw Township, teachers collect from 5,000 to 10,000 kyat in additional "entrance fees" from individual students. The teachers keep this money for their own interests.

A female trader who carries goods between Maungdaw and Teknaf in Bangladesh said that there are five official organizations at the Maungdaw border gate that collect money from traders crossing into Bangladesh.

The five organizations mentioned are: Customs, Nasaka, the jetty authority, Sarafa, and a combined force made up of the district authority, township authority, and the police.

Many police constables and riot police are involved in unlawful activities in Maungdaw, and some police officials are even known by residents to be involved in drug smuggling to Bangladesh.

According to a local source, in Maungdaw Township the price of rice is double what it is in other areas of Arakan State. A 50 kilogram sack of Pawsan Mwe brand rice is 35,000 kyats, while other regular standard rice brands are nearly 30,000 kyat per sack. A bag of rice is now equivalent to an ordinary government employee's monthly salary. #

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