Myanmar: Mobile Phone Tax from April 1
The Ministry of Finance’s Internal Revenue Department will impose a 5 percent tax on mobile phone subscribers from April 1. The government attempted to impose the tax from June 2015 but delayed it after strong public opposition. The tax was earlier meant to be imposed on top-up recharge cards. However, the government clarified that the levy would be imposed on phone calls, text messages, and internet usage; the user’s credit balance will reflect the new tax. A mobile phone user will be charged on their total usage amount and not when they top-up. The opening up of the telecommunications industry caused a significant decline in the price of mobile phone sim cards to less than US $2 following the transition from military to semi-civilian government in 2011. The number of sim cards has also increased to 18 million from just around one million, three years ago.
Myanmar has three telecommunications operators: Qatar’s Ooreoo, Norway’s Telenor, and MPT – a joint venture between the telecommunications ministry and Japanese-owned KDDI group. While mobile phone operators do not agree with the tax, they have said that there is not likely to be much impact on usage as sim cards are now much cheaper than they were earlier. The imposition of the tax comes on the same day as the transfer of power from the country’s semi-military government to the civilian-led National League for Democracy administration.
Philippines: New Customs Requirements for Air Cargo
All commercial air export cargo via the country’s four main airports must now be filed electronically through the electronic-to-mobile Automated Export Documentation System (E2m AEDS), as per the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The AEDS is a module under the E2m for receiving and processing of the export declaration single administrative document. The Customs Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 23-2016 was signed by the Customs Commissioner and mandates the E2m AEDS for all commercial air shipments from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Clark International Airport, Metro Cebu’s Mactan Cebu International Airport, and Davao’s Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also known as Davao International Airport. The new circular covers commercial shipments, which is defined as trade commodities, or that have commercial value. Personal shipments are not covered under the circular; a new circular for such items is yet to come.
Malaysia Proposes Common Certification for Food Safety for ASEAN
Malaysia’s Health Ministry is set to propose the establishment of a common certification for food safety within ASEAN. The common certification would be an accreditation that provides food export opportunities to ASEAN member states to access the world market. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramniam stated that one common certification would create a global standard, without unnecessary and unjustified obstacles to food exports of ASEAN countries. The proposal is expected to be presented at the Health Ministers meeting in Brunei in a few months. The development comes after the minister launched the ASEAN Risk Assessment Centre for Food Safety (ARAC) on March 22. The ARAC is an independent food safety risk assessment to assess safety issues and common interest in the regions – one of the steps towards moving to a common certification. A common certification for food safety would be welcome and boost trade in the ASEAN region while helping food importers and exporters maximize profits rather than having different permits leading to a cumbersome process.
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