Buthidaung, Arakan State: The Burmese Army has been collecting paddy from local villagers for its ration in Buthidaung Township, in Arakan State since the beginning of this year, said a town businessman town not wanting to be named.

The army has been collecting 1.5 Tans (one Tan = 35 kg) per acre as ration and it provides Kyat 3,000 per Tan to the villagers. But the payment is not made to the villagers directly. It is paid through the local Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) Chairmen. 

The villagers have to send paddy to the army warehouse in Buthidaung Town and they are reluctant to go to the town with their quota because of unnecessary expenses, said a local farmer. 

Taking advantage of this, local VPDC members obtained a contract from the army to collect paddy from villagers and send it to the warehouse in Buthidaung town. The VPDC Chairmen has the detailed list of arable land of villages and keeps it a secret, so he knows how many Tans of paddy have to be collected per village.

But, the army has already announced an approximate list for every village, as to how many Tans had to be provided to the army. But, VPDC members collected paddy from the villagers according to their list. So, the VPDC members get extra paddy from the villagers because of their secret arable land lists. This benefits VPDC members, said a local villager.

VPDC members collected Kyat 800 per Tan from the villagers. But, the VPDC members also bought paddy from the open market with extra money which they got from collecting extra paddy and sent it to the army according to the quota per village.

The VPDC members also got Kyat 3,000 per Tan from the army for providing paddy. In this way, the VPDC members collected extra paddy from the villagers, and they got lots of money by selling it. This is the kind of business the VPDC members are into, according to a local trader.