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Blockade and Demonetisation by United Naga Council Squeezes Trade among Tribals on India-Myanmar Border

Over 60,000 non-local businessmen at Moreh at one point of time, hardly 10,000 are left behind now

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Indian Currency, Pixabay

Imphal, November 27, 2016: The legalised border trade among tribals on the India-Myanmar international border continues to be hit by the blockade the United Naga Council has imposed since November 1 against Manipur, as well as the demonetization by India.

The Naga Council protesters are agitated over the Manipur government’s move to create a Sadar Hills district, fearing that some Naga-dominant lands might be included in the proposed district.

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The traditional trade worth crores of rupees among tribals on either side of the international border was legalised in 1995, bringing in considerable revenue to the exchequer.

The border trade centres are at Moreh in Manipur and Namphalong and Tamu in Myanmar.

The Centre’s November 8 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has only added to the border traders’ woes.

Ibopishak, a trader, said: “Myanmarese traders earlier freely accepted Indian rupees for transactions at Namphalong and Tamu (in Myanmar), at the locally fixed (illegal) foreign exchange rate of Rs 100 for 1,900 kyat (Myanmar currency). However, after the demonetisation, it has fallen to Rs 100 for 800 kyat.”

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The banks and the only two automated teller machines at Moreh are dry of cash for the last few days.

A south Indian who has set up his business at Moreh told IANS that he is seriously thinking of shifting out to the Mizoram-Myanmar border as there are no disruptions in business in Mizoram as in Manipur by the Nagas.

He rued that some tribal groups in Manipur are in the habit of imposing blockades and general strikes along the highways to choke the northeastern state.

Another businessman, Lakshman, said: “The border markets are shut down. Apart from shortage of high-denomination notes, one cannot take anything from Moreh to other parts of India due to the Naga economic blockade.”

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Shamir Hussain, a businessman, said of the over 60,000 non-local businessmen at Moreh at one point of time, hardly 10,000 are left behind now. The remaining have gone elsewhere to conduct their trade and business.

A small trader, Rashmi Bib, said: “Extortion is also responsible for declining business. There are over 14 checkposts and police stations on 60-km Moreh-Pallel route, where traders have to pay a percentage of the goods bought from Myanmar. There are some more checkpoints on the remaining 40 km between Pallel and Imphal.” (IANS)

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Usage of Unaccounted Cash Still Prevalent in Market: Report

Large cash transactions still present in resale realty market

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Unaccounted cash
Significant usage of unaccounted cash is still prevalent in the secondarly real estate market. Pixabay

It has been three years since demonetisation which was implemented with the aim to curb and eradicate black money. But according to a report released on Wednesday, significant usage of unaccounted cash is still prevalent in the secondarily real estate market.

The report prepared by Anarock Property Consultants said that up to 30 per cent of the total transaction value in the secondary or resale residential maket in India can still be paid in cash.

However, the primary sales market in tier-I cities offer the least scope for unaccounted wealth in property deals, it said.

“Demonetization in November 2016 sent Indian residential real estate — till then a preferred laundromat for unaccounted wealth — into an almost terminal tailspin. Even three years after DeMo, the battle is only half-won,” said Anuj Puri, Chairman Aof Anarock Property Consultants.

“The secondary or resale residential real estate market still accommodates black money; at least 30 per cent of the total cost of resale property can still be paid in cash. While more and more buyers and sellers prefer official payment routes as a matter of principle, many still use the resale property market to launder untaxed cash,” he added.

Cash in market
Many buyers use the resale property market to launder untaxed cash. Pixabay

As per the report, while the trend in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and the National Capital Region (NCR), which are historically notorious for black money in real estate, has tamed considerably in primary sales, their resale property markets still see cash components.

As much as 20-25 per cent of the total resale property cost can still be “adjusted” with black money, it said, adding that in Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, the prevalence of transparent payment routes, even on the resale market, is much higher.

“Unlike the primary sales market, the resale market still lacks strict regulations, making it easier for buyers and sellers to use cash components.

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Also, the primary sales market involves developers with a reputation to protect, while a resale property transaction involves two individuals. The pricing of resale properties also lacks transparency,” the report said.

In the case of direct sales by developers, there are readily-available pricing benchmarks, while in the secondary market, a seller can inflate the price of a property based on location, added features and so on without stating on the books. (IANS)