Toll booths and electric meters latest government tax schemes

Kim Sung Il  |  2017-11-02 17:33
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The North Korean government is imposing rising taxes in an alleged bid to develop the country's crumbling infrastructure. The initiative to improve transportation and electricity infrastructure through yet more tax increases is being seen as another attempt by the authorities to exploit the population.
North Korea once regularly claimed that the country is a tax-free nation' but even these claims are fading. Sources inside the country report that such taxation efforts reveal the paradoxical nature of North Korean society and the disproportionate and indiscriminate methods used by those in power to exploit ordinary residents for their own benefit.
A source in South Pyongan Province informed Daily NK on October 31 that "the authorities have given notice of their intention to replace electricity meters, requiring citizens to pay a fee of 240,000 KPW (approx $30 USD) to their local district office, after which an electrician will go out to install the new meter."
The efforts appear aimed at allowing the government to more accurately calculate electricity usage and bring in more tax revenue. In rural areas and other places that lack electricity meters, usage is calculated based on the number of appliances in a person's home. 
This recent push is targeting all households in the capital city of Pyongyang. According to the source, the government has warned that "any household failing to comply with the order to replace their electricity meter will be required to pay a penalty 10 times the base usage fee."
The source noted that people are reacting by saying, "Is this not just another nonsensical attempt to extract money [from the people]?" adding that, "in the wake of recent sanctions, people are becoming increasingly worried and sensitive (to these directives)."
Another source in Pyongyang reports that the authorities are also installing toll booths on major highways on the outskirts of Pyongyang in order to collect tolls from those entering the city. The work is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year. There are currently four major highways connecting Kaesong, Wonsan, Nampo, and Hyangsan to Pyongyang. 
The tolls charged to motorists are said to be put towards infrastructure improvements, and also to boost surveillance over those entering the city. Parking fees have also become systematized. 
People must now pay to park in all streets around rail stations, restaurants, and even residential neighborhoods. There are officials who monitor these areas and go around demanding a 1,000 KPW fee per hour," the source said, adding that previously, local business owners sometimes collected parking fees, but now the People's Committee has taken over the collections. 

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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