Sunday, 7 June 2009

Mr. Keat Chhon: I Believe that the Cambodian Economy Will Not Face a Crisis – Saturday, 6.6.2009

Posted on 7 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 615

“Phnom Penh: The Minister of Economy and Finance, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, said in a document about different measures of the Royal Government, which had been taken to alleviate poverty during the present financial and economic crisis, ‘I believe that the measures taken will really be able to stabilize the economic situation in Cambodia so that it does not to fall into a crisis.’ In the meantime, the government still adheres to the high ambition to achieve an economic growth of around 7%, and to succeed in poverty alleviation by more than 1% per year…

“What are the measures taken by the government to withstand the global economic crisis?

“Journalists would like to publicize the special measures related to four sectors that are an important basis for economic growth in Cambodia: agriculture, the garment sector, tourism, and the construction sector.

“Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon wrote in his letter:

For Agriculture:

“In 2008, the government provided US$12 million special financing through the Rural Development Bank to private rice mill owners to buy paddy rice and milled rice to ensure local supplies, and it continues to add this up to US$18 million for 2009.
The government created the Foundation for Agricultural Support and Development with Riel 72 Billion (US$17 million).

“The creation of this foundation aims to provide short-term loans for buying of paddy rice and milled rice from farmers at suitable prices… and to provide medium-term loans to rice processing companies, in order to expand the capacity of their storehouses with communal rice drying facilities and other processing machines, and to provide loans for investment to produce agricultural products which can meet local needs and are also suitable for export. The Rural Development Bank will contribute US$2 million to the Foundation.

“The Royal Government will offer tax incentives for agriculture, by canceling tax payment requirements on the profits for three years for any investment of more than Riel 4 billion [approx. US$980,000], irrespective of whether those investment plans are short, medium, or long term. These incentives are included in the adjustments of the financial law for 2009. The Royal Government is reviewing and discussing whether to adjust a sub-decree about mandatory audits on investments and it will implement it soon, so as to encourage investment projects that make products by using resources from local farming, and investments for the storing and processing of rice for export, and investments in the irrigation system of more than US$200,000. The Royal Government is encouraging partnerships between farmers who own small plots of land and large farms, agricultural corporations, and economic land concessions, and especially between farmers’ associations and companies that buy, process, and export rice.

“The government keeps on adjusting the procedures for rice export as much as possible, and gradually strengthens the mechanisms to monitor paddy rice export.

“The Royal Government continues to implement a soft policy which includes measures of lowering the tax rate to zero percent, and by putting additional taxes on the import of agricultural materials, such as seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, animal foods, and other agricultural tools, in order to promote the implementation of a policy to support farmers products, so that there is a special competition to export rice [from Cambodia].

For the Garment Sector:

“Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon continued that the restoration of the garment sector relates also to building a social safety system. To reduce difficulties and to ease the cash movement of garment and shoes-making enterprises, the government prolongs the suspension of tax payment obligations, reducing the monthly tax to 1% for two more years (from the end of 2010 to the end of 2012), and to share the monthly occupational hazard insurance payments of 0.3% of the wage of each worker, instead of having the factory owners paying this, for two years (2008-2010).

The government sets up trade-facilitating plans by implementing the Automated SYstem for CUstoms Data – ASYCUDA, and creating procedures to reduce unnecessary expenses both officially and unofficially.

The Royal Government is taking more administrative actions, like taking action to prevent the stealing of garments from factories to be sold at the local markets. To deal with social problems and to help increase work productivity in the garment sector and for the nation, the Royal Government prepares to release US$6.5 million to create a special scholarship fund, the ‘Special Foundation of Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen],’ to offer short-term professional training in agricultural technical skills, and for the more than 40,000 workers who lost their jobs already. At present, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Labor and Professional Training are providing short-term training courses to our workers.

In the meantime, the government plans to release about US$1 million for the ‘Foundation for Self-Employment’ administered by the National Training Committee to provide micro-loans to trainees who have received training and who are found to be capable to create their own jobs.

For Tourism:

“As for tourism, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon wrote that tourism can be restored by thoroughly guaranteeing peace, security, political stability, social order, and safety for tourists, and by building more infrastructure, improving the legal framework, creating human resources, and expanding the tourism market. He added that at the same time, the Royal Government is already prepared to intervene in tourism, like by cutting visa fees, if a study about the expense system would shows that doing so really helps to attract more tourists to visit Cambodia, which in turn benefits the Cambodian economic system. The government also improves the Angkor Wat visiting card system.

For the Construction Sector:

“Regarding the construction and real estate sector, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon wrote that to restore these two sectors which are being affected by the global financial crisis and by the global economic downturn, the Royal Government is paying attention to speculation operations by mortgaging property, by using also property which cannot be used as property to be mortgaged to cover immediate and short-time cash needs. This is how capital is transfered short term outside of the banking system, and it can help to encourage the movement of capital from being used for mortgage property, to be rather used in the economic system. The ministry will organize temporary management system for the above operations, by cooperating with relevant institutions and by searching students to gather experiences from some other countries as a basis to clearly control this sector, following international standards.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4913, 6.6.2009.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4913, 6.6.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 6 June 2009

VN-US venture to make cement


HCM CITY — A joint venture between Paul Cham Co Ltd and US-based Phi Group will invest US$51 million in a cement plant in Cambodia’s Stung Treng Province, it was announced on Wednesday.

Phnom Penh-based Paul Cham is 51 per cent-owned by the Viet Nam-headquartered T&T Company.

Paul Cham director Nguyen Thi Cham said the feasibility study for the cement project had been completed and construction of the plant would start in July.

The cement factory and limestone quarry in Stung Treng Province’s Thala Barivath District will turn out its first products early next year, she added.

Would You Be More Likely to Visit Angkor Wat if it was Illuminated At Night?

Photo: CNN


The 12th century temple complex known as Angkor Wat is by far the most popular tourist site in Cambodia, drawing a million travelers a year to walk among its austere columns and soaring spires, many of which are overgrown with tree roots that resemble the tentacles of an octopus. Hoping to wring a few more dollars out of tourists - and enhance the visitor experience, of course - the government recently announced that it is considering installing artificial lighting throughout the ancient city so the temples can be open at night. The AP points out that visitors are typically ushered out of the area at sunset, and the new lighting will enable the park to stay open as late as 8:30 p.m.

Conservationists, however, are less thrilled with the idea. They worry that the area's resources - particularly the already overtaxed underground water supply - aren't sufficient to support an influx of tourists, who will require roads, hotels, and all the other amenities that go along with the tourism industry.

I can see their point, and would be sure to tread as lightly as possible, but I kind of like the idea of seeing Angkor Wat at night. I imagine some of the statues, carvings, and shadows would be pretty amazing, particularly after happy hour. And hopefully they'd use really environmentally-friendly lighting, like LED lights, in a smart and innovative way, creating lots of trippy, dramatic angles. But I'd also hope they left most of the park undisturbed, all the better to retain its unique position at the nexus of natural and supernatural.

The Telecommunication System in Cambodia Is Having Problems Because of Overlapping Frequency Ranges – Friday, 5.6.2009

Posted on 6 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 615

“The telecom system in Cambodia is seen as progressing strongly at present, but in the background, it is facing some technical problems. If there is no correction, there might be more problems for the users.

“A telecom expert said recently that the telecom system in Cambodia is having many problems, and the major one is the overlapping of frequency ranges, while the various telecom systems are progressing in Cambodia.

“At present, telecommunications in Cambodia have improved a lot – a few years ago, there were only 3 big mobile phone companies, but now there are 9; even if one counts only the system access numbers [011, 012, 016, 017, etc.], one can see there are many. The number of Internet Service Providers, which was previously 4 or 5 only, now has increased to about 30.

“This expert said, ‘The frequencies allocated are too close, and sometimes, when we deviate just a bit, there are problems for the users.’

“Regarding this problem, an official of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, who asked not to be named, said by telephone on 4 June 2009 that it is true that there is an overlapping of frequency ranges, but this is not because the ministry had provided too many licenses to different companies. The problem relates to installation techniques.

“He said, ‘The frequencies overlap because of incorrect installations, and when we check to correct this, the problem can be solved.’

“Besides the problems of overlapping frequencies, the overlapping of licenses provided is also another complicated problem.

“The same expert added that sometimes, the problem is not only that frequency installations result in their spread and overlap, but also the provision of overlapping licenses makes it for him, a technical expert, difficult to solve.

“He said, ‘As I know, just with the WiMax technology alone (a new technology used to provide Internet services to mobile phones), about 20 systems are provided with overlapping licenses.’

‘He continued to say that generally, WiMax technology is used with mobile phones only, but here, companies providing television over the Internet also have licenses to use it.

“Relating to this issue, the president of the Information and Communication Technology Association of Cambodia, Mr. Nang Rada, said that the problems of the telecom system in the country exists because Cambodia has no systematic law and no policy to regulate the telecom systems. [The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) lists the Information and Communication Technology Association of Cambodia as a member].

“He added, ‘We do not have a telecom law and a related policy, and therefore, our telecom system has problems.

“According to Mr. Rada, the problems in communicating between different systems [for example from a 011 phone to a 012 phone, etc.] result from the non-existence of a telecom law as a basis [to regulate interconnections].

“He added, ‘The difficulties in calling from one system to another exist because we do not have a regulating law.’

“The same official of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication stated that a draft law is at the Council of Ministers and is awaiting discussion.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4912, 5.6.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 June 2009