Manaung: Officials have allegedly taken a cut for transportation fees and daily expenses from the agricultural loans that were provided to farmers by the government in Manaung Township in southern Arakan State, Burma.
"In our Kantaing Village group there are 119 farmers and no one wants to pay the officials for their personal expenses, but they told us that they have to spend from their own pockets for traveling and documentation to led loans to the farmers, and forced each of us to pay 1,500 kyat for taking a loan under the amount of 100,000 kyat and 2,000 kyat for loan amounts above 100,000 kyat," said one of the farmers.
He said the farmers are very poor and the loans are very necessary for the farmers. They did not dare to refuse to pay the officials' claims for payment out of fear they would not get loans for their cultivation.
He added that the escorting policies for the bank officials have also collected 1,000 kyat from each of the farmers for their loans.
"Besides the officials, their escorting policies have also forced us to pay 1,000 kyat each for their recreation for servicing on the travel for farmers' loans," he said.
A farmer from Sarchak Village in Manaung Township also confirmed that they faced the same cut from their loans.
"The manager of the local agricultural bank, U Khin Maung Yin himself is involved in this kind of collection of forced payments from farmers' loans distributed on our whole island of Manaung," said the farmer.
He said the group arrived in their Sarchak Village Group on 11 June, 2011, and issued loans to the farmers from the village administrator's house, and cut the same payments of 1,500 kyat and 2,000 kyat from the loans. In addition, they cut 500 kyat from each of the loans to offer robes to the monks on the first day of Buddhist Lent in the manager's office of the Agricultural Bank in the area.
He added that the bank has issued the loans to farmers at a rate of 20,000 kyat per acre of farmland, and the farmers who own the least farmland have suffered the most from the cuts from their loans.
There are 108 villages in 36 village groups in Manaung Township, and most of the residents are farmers.
A local educated youth said, "It is not just in the agricultural sector that the corruption and extortion of money from the public is going on, but it is also continuing in all departments in Burma and nothing has changed from the official norms under the former regime. The U Thein Sein regime should look into their departments and officials rather than shouting with its big mouth about 'Clean Government and Good Governance'."