Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Video ‘Licensing Tax’ Levied on Gathering Places

Restaurants, tea shops, beauty parlors and other locations that play popular videos have been ordered to pay a “licensing tax” by the Burmese Film Association (BFA), as a way to raise funds for the group.

A BFA official told The Irrawaddy, “It will cost about 30,000 kyat (US $30) for a one-year license. Failure to pay the tax could result in a three-month prison sentence or a fine of 200,000 kyat (US $200).” The tax was first levied in August 2008.

“We have to raise funds for the film association,” the official said.

The BFA also raises funds by producing videos that promote the military junta’s policies.

A video store owner in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy, “We are ordered to buy these ‘policy videos’ which are produced and sponsored by the BFA. Right now there’s a policy disc titled ‘Mawkhom’ (Burmese Archive). I have to buy at least three discs at once, and it cost 1,200 kyat (USD $1) for one disc.”

He said most policy discs are not popular with the public because of weak stories and “because there are no famous actors or actresses in them.”

“But we have no right to object,” he said. “The authorities tell us to buy them, and I have to buy at least six discs a year.”

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