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4 Jan 2024

Myanmar: Military seeks to take cut from migrants' remittances through new measures, incl. 'double' taxation & forced remittance through formal channels

The military council needs foreign money. This is a way to channel money from workers to them at a time of great demand.
U Aung Kyaw, spokesperson of the Labour Rights Foundation

In September 2023, The Frontier reported that the military regime in Myanmar has ordered migrant workers from Myanmar transfer 25% of their salaries back to the country through the formal banking system at an exchange rate lower than the market rate. The article alleges the regime will take its cut from these remittances.

This new rule will apply to Myanmar MOU workers in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Workers and activists argue the new regulation will likely encourage more workers to migrate irregularly.

A second article by East Asia Forum, released in October 2023, reports that a second order has been made by the military regime, which requires Myanmar nationals pay a tax in the foreign currency that they earn in. Myanmar migrants will therefore often pay a double tax as they are already paying income taxes in the receiving country. Every migrant will have to prove the payment of tax when they renew passports every five years.

The second article emphasises that these new measures have two purposes: to discipline migrant workers who are seen as ‘financial supporters of the resistance against the military regime’, and to fund the State Administration Council’s war against resistance.

An article in January 2024 by Radio Free Asia highlights resistance from Myanmar migrant workers abroad who say they will not pay tax to the military regime. Some refuse because they oppose funding what they see as an illegitimate military regime, while others say they will not pay until their labour rights are adequately protected.