YANGON — The Ministry of Commerce gave the go-ahead for the legal import and export of jewelry items on Jan. 22, but local gems merchants are still unclear about the tax rate.
“It is good that importing and exporting jewelry has been legalized, but at the moment, we are still not sure about the tax rate,” U Aung Hsan Win, owner of Aung Thamardi Gold Shop, told The Irrawaddy.
For more than a decade, Myanmar’s gold has been smuggled into China and India across the border, he said, adding that the government should set an appropriate tax rate in consultation with gold miners, transporters and gold merchants.
“I welcome both the export and import of gold and gems. But if the tax is too high, there will be tax evasion. Merchants will be willing to pay if the government levies small tax amounts over numerous instances rather than a high tax all at once,” said central executive committee member U Win Myint of the Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association (Yangon).
The Myanmar government has lost large sums of money in tax revenue from the smuggling of gems over the border, he said. “If the tax rate is low, merchants will export legally rather than smuggle.”
Though the export/ import license is issued by the Commerce Ministry, other ministries such as the Mines Ministry and Customs Department under the Ministry of Planning and Finance should also collaborate in the process, he suggested.
The government should also adopt an insurance system for the export and import of gold and jewelry items, he said.
Meanwhile, Myanmar is also establishing its first official market for gold, gems and metal trading in commercial capital Yangon.
The official gold market has been in the works for three years, and various ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Planning and Finance, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Ministry of Commerce, Central Bank of Myanmar, Myanmar Federation of Mining Association and Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs have been collaborating in its creation.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.