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Laos threatens BTC miners with shutdown for inactivity

Laos will suspend the licenses of inactive BTC miners, a new report has revealed.

The Laotian government has authorized 15 companies to engage in block reward mining in the Southeast Asian country. Two licensees have yet to start operations, forcing the government to push for their shutdown.

The report by the Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency also revealed that some of the other operators owe the state millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. However, the government acknowledged that most of the miners were prompt in paying taxes and other fees and had generated considerable revenue for the state. In November 2021, the country announced an ambitious target of collecting $194 million from the industry.

The unpaid fees from the miners hit $20 million at one point, Xinhua reported, citing Laotian Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone. The miners blamed the ‘crypto winter‘ and BTC’s 50% price slump for their woes.

To boost compliance, the government cut the fees in half to accommodate global BTC price changes.

“With that decision, the companies concerned began paying their fees, and it is expected that all the fees will be fully paid by the end of 2023,” the premier told the National Assembly.

Despite all the concessions, some miners are still not compliant. Siphandone pledged to suspend, fine, and revoke their licenses in accordance with relevant laws if they don’t shape up soon.

Even as it seeks to increase its revenue from miners, the Laotian government has failed to ensure a constant power supply amid a prolonged drought that affected hydropower generation. The country’s grid operator announced that it was cutting off the miners in May as it struggled to meet power demand in the nation of 7.4 million residents.

Laos has also struggled to regulate the sector. An on-site visit by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in September 2022 found significant regulatory gaps in its digital asset policies.

Watch: Think of Bitcoin mining as financial self-discipline

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