While the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) recently opened its doors for business, it’s not quite ready to actually do business. As it currently stands, there is no actual trade taking place, making it the smallest bourse in the world in terms of market capitalization. However, it’s only a matter of time before the fledgling stock exchange begins the process of trading stocks. “The market will [be] fully operational before the end of this year. That means listing companies will complete the initial public offering (IPO) process and be able to sell their shares in the secondary market of the CSX in Cambodia,” said Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance at the recent CSX inauguration ceremony…Keat Chhon expected that three state-owned enterprises–Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), Telecom Cambodia (TC) and Sihanoukville port–will be able to be listed on time this year, which should pave the way for other companies to be listed on the bourse.
The issue of using land titles to encourage banks to boost their lending to the agriculture sector was raised at the “Empower Your Business: Riding on Cambodia’s Growth” seminar in Phnom Penh on July 21. “Seventy percent of the population is undertaking agriculture as their profession, which suggests there’s a significant scope to develop agriculture. But farmers are discouraged from investing in fertilizer, irrigation systems or capital equipment, given that they are unsure whether they own their land,” said Morten Kvammen, Managing Partner of Cambodian Capital Securities Co. Ltd., at the seminar. “Records of land titles were erased in the late 1970s and have never been clearly reestablished. The land title issue has not been worked out in agriculture, and access to capital remains limited.” ( Sok Sithika, p 17).
Cambodia has officially opened a stock exchange, which economists say will provide a chance for the development of the country and job creation. However, they warn that mismanagement of the bourse could also lead to economic woes. “When this stock market goes well, it will help companies expand their businesses using the capital acquired from the stocks,” said Duch Darin, adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College in Florida, as a guest on “Hello VOA” last week. “Therefore, this will create jobs for people and increase profits for the companies.”.
The Minister of Water Resource and Meteorology announced yesterday that the Japanese government’s international aid agency will provide his ministry with $47 million on loans for an agriculture development project near the Tonle Sap lake. During a donation ceremony for 144 Japanese-funded agricultural machines held at the ministry, Minister Lim Kean Hor told the 400 water resource officials in attendance that the Japanese government will sign the loan agreement on Monday.
Southeast Asia needs to push ahead with a regional free trade bloc and policies to cope with global financial crises, Indonesia’s government said yesterday. Indonesia’s Vice President Boediono, addressing trade ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said it was evident since the 2008 financial crisis that the United States and Europe could no longer be the main engines of growth for the world. He said sound economic fundamentals and policies had enabled ASEAN economies to bounce back by last year.
Authorities are planning upgrades to effectively double the capacity of boats travelling from Phnom Penh Autonomous Port to Vietnam, according to port Director General Hei Bavy. A 2009 agreement with Vietnam authorities allows ships travelling down the Mekong from Cambodia to offload at Cai Mep deepwater port near Ho Chi Minh City, and re-load onto larger vessels to make the trip overseas. Although the agreement has led to a large increase in shipments from Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), experts say more could be done to improve the link. PPAP Director General Hei Bavy said making the connecting waterway deeper would allow for larger, more efficient boats to make the journey to Cai Mep. “In Vietnam, they plan to rehabilitate navigation accessibilities [along the river] by 2013, which will expand the capacity from 10,000 tonnes to over 20,000 tonnes.” Expansions at PPAP are pending and are slated for completion in 2015, said Hei Bavy (Liam Barnes with additional reporting by Jeremy Mullins, p 7).
The use of short-term contracts by employers in the Kingdom’s garment industry is threatening workers’ rights and could lead to decreased productivity in the sector, researchers said at a meeting yesterday. Following the release of a report by Yale Law School last week based on research conducted in 2009, researchers stated that “fixed-duration contracts” are affecting the ability of workers to obtain benefits such as maternity
leave, sick leave and seniority bonuses. Workers employed under FDCs are hired on a temporary, short-term basis, rather than being employed on permanent contracts.
In the latest government backed appropriation of protected land, nearly 20,000 hectares of the Boeung Per wildlife sanctuary have been reclassified as state private land for agro-industrial development. Two sub-decrees, obtained by The Post this week and initialed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 22, officially reclassified the 19,829 hectares located in the Romny commune of Preah Vihear’s Rovieng district without naming the companies that had been approved to develop the site. It follows an additional four sub-decrees that reclassified almost 30,000 hectares within the Kulen Promtep wildlife sanctuary, north of Boeung Per. The decision came less than a month after community representatives convened in Rovieng district to express concern over a series of large economic land concessions they claim are decimating the wildlife sanctuary and the people who rely on its natural resources.
The Bank of India will move to a larger location on Norodom Boulevard, aiming to attract increased business from both Cambodian and Indian clients, said Chief Manager Sripada Rao. The Mumbai, India-based bank first opened in the Kingdom in 2009 headquartered on the capital’s Monivong Boulevard. “Over the last two years, we have developed rapidly and are doing business well,” said Sripada Rao. “Hopefully we will bloom in the Cambodian market.”.
Cambodia saw significant percentage gains in regional trade in the first six months of the year, though the gap between imports and exports remained large, according to data released yesterday by the Ministry of Commerce. According to the figures, the country saw regional exports to five major trade partners rise 94.9 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, from $69.23 million to $134.93 million. However, imports from Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore roe 63.7 percent overall in the first six months, from $933.88 million to $1.53 billion, according to the data.
A resurgent economy and efforts to crack down on smuggling have led to a large increase in petroleum imports, according to experts. Cambodia has imported 756,139 tonnes worth US$692 million in the first half of the year, from 440,607 tonnes worth $296 million in the sixmonth period in 2010, Ministry of Commerce statistics obtained yesterday show. University of Cambodia Economics lecturer Chheng Kimlong said the increase augured well for the Kingdom’s economy.
Ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat has defied an order endorsed by the Prime Minster to halt his controversial sand dredging activities on the Tatai river in Koh Kong, prompting authorities to request intervention, documents obtained by The Post reveal. The dredging operation on the Tatai river has stirred up serious concern from tourism operators and villagers in the area, who have said it is destroying the local environment and driving customers away. Government officials appear at loggerheads over the tycoon’s operations.
THE government expressed disappointment yesterday with the World Bank’s announcement that it had halted new country loans due to the ongoing land dispute at Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh and vowed to raise the issue with the bank’s executive board. “We are very dissatisfied with the World Bank’s decision because we are partners on several projects,” Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday, referring to the 21 projects the bank now funds in the country. “Each programme is an agreement the two parties have made with each other. No one has a right to breach these contracts.” (Don Weinland and Kouth Sophak Chakrya, p 1).
For the first time since Phnom Penh municipality slated some 4,000 mostly poor families for forced eviction in 2007 to make way for a CPP senator’s controversial real estate project, City Hall yesterday promised them what they have always wanted most: titles to their land. “[We] give the land to you and will make the land titles,” governor Kep Chuktema said at a City Hall meeting authorities had called to elaborate on a recent sub-decree granting the families 12.44 hectares of the development site…Until yesterday, City Hall had consistently rebuffed the Boeng Kak community’s demands for land titles. Families left meeting after meeting with officials empty handed. Their peaceful protests were often broken up with police batons. So, despite some lingering doubts and questions, the families–and the rights groups that have backed them–welcomed the news as an important milestone in their fight.
Riverboat services between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are scheduled to restart on Aug 15 after closing down in March due to low water levels in the Tonle Sap river, a port official said yesterday. Chieat Thol, deputy director of the administrative department and the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, said six boat companies will ply the water route and all will use the same port areas in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
The government must correctly implement the Land Law and allow indigenous people greater access to collective titling of their native territories, human rights group Adhoc said yesterday in a statement. Although there is a provision in the Land Law allowing indigenous groups to obtain collective land titles, the sub-decree implementing the provision was not passed until 2009. Even now, Adhoc says, the legislation is too bureaucratic and hard for minority groups to understand.
Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court has ordered 40 families embroiled in a long-running land dispute with the wife of Minister of Industry Suy Sem to pay court fees of up to $155 each, or have their complaints dropped. The villagers, however, say they are too poor to pay the fees, a human rights worker said yesterday. The dispute between the villagers and the KDC Development company, which is owned by Chea Keng, the wife of Mr Sem, has been ongoing since 1997.
Phnom Penh City Hall has estimated it could receive about $6 million in revenue next year from property tax collection, which started recently. City Hall released some tax calculation methods on its website last week and said that “based on the estimation of the technical officers, the income from this new tax for 2011-2012 would be about $6 million.” The government has announced it will assess property value based on location, size, materials, age and style. The tax affects property valued at more than $25,000, with several exemptions such as agricultural land, foreign embassies and state property.
The government has brought into force a new law that makes all illegal payments to officials punishable by up to 15 years in jail for those who accept such payments and up to 10 years for those who make payments. Im Oudom, a member of the Secretariat of the Council of Jurists within the Council of Ministers, said that King Norodom Sihamoni signed an amendment on Aug 1 that brought the entirety of the Anti-Corruption Law, as well as all other legal articles on corruption, into full effect under the new Penal Code…Investors and legal experts, however, said that despite the tough stance adopted by the government vis-a-vis corruption, implementing the new law would prove very difficult.
Government officials yesterday dismissed the World Bank’s recently revealed decision to freeze funding for new projects in Cambodia to protest a Phnom Penh real estate project that has forced thousand of families out of their homes. A housing rights group closely following the evictions said it still held out little hope that the funding freeze would do much good for the 4,000 mostly poor families evicted or still facing eviction from the city’s Boeng Kak lake area. “It affects us, but if they want to freeze [funding], they can freeze it,” said CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Commission of Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit. “The [World Bank] money contributes to our development, but not having it won’t hurt our development,” Mr Yeap said.