Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC) announced on January 6 that a commercial tax of K20,000 will be levied on the purchase of mobile phone SIM cards.
The regime also said it would impose a commercial tax of 15% on internet service revenue, with the changes enshrined in the Law Amending the Union Tax Law 2021.
Other tax levies have been eased or suspended to address businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but a tax increase will be levied on growing use of the internet, according to state-run newspapers.
The junta-controlled media said the tax increase would not only boost the country’s revenue, but could also reduce “the effects triggered by extreme use of internet services on the employment of the people and physical and mental sufferings of new generation students.”
A local resident in Sittwe said the plan to add a new commercial tax on use of internet services could not be accepted under the current economic crisis, which has been fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic and the military’s February 1 coup d’etat.
“More and more people are now using email to send documents. In the meantime, with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I could not communicate with people and had to work online. So, if the junta raises the price of internet usage, the people will be in trouble,” the Sittwe resident added.
Similarly, U Ko Ni, a resident of Sittwe who runs a mobile phone business, pointed out that the new tax would be particularly hard on low-income users.
“This is not a good sign. If the internet price goes up, the grassroots will not be able to use it,” he said.
The Law Amending the Union Tax Law 2021, signed by junta chief and SAC chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Thursday, will take effect from January 8, 2022, to March 31, 2022.