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New committee to make Sihanoukville ‘fair and attractive’ for businesses

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times Share:
The office of one of the many Chinese businesses that operate in Sihanoukville. KT/May Titthara

Amid worries that the ever-increasing number of foreign companies, particularly Chinese, in Sihanoukville’s hospitality sector may be taking business away from locals, authorities in the seaside province have agreed to create a joint-working group to enforce current legislation and guide the drafting of new one.

The meteoric rise of tourist arrivals to the coastal areas of the country in recent years has brought large sums of money into the province’s economy. However, it has also attracted thousands of foreign investors and entrepreneurs competing with locals for their piece of the pie.

Particularly, the massive increase in Chinese businesses has got some local businessmen disgruntled. Many business operators, such as hotel and guesthouse owners, say their businesses have taken a hit.

To tackle the issue, an urgent meeting of relevant authorities was convened last week, bringing together the provincial branches of the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and Vocational Training, and the General Department of Taxation, according to a press release by the Ministry of Commerce.

The meeting was led by Sok Sopheak, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce.

“As Cambodia’s economy keeps growing, Sihanoukville becomes an increasingly important investment destination and there is a growing need for all authorities to work together to enforce the current regulation and make sure that the local business sector is fair and safe for all players,” Mr Sopheak said during the meeting.

“We have to enhance communication between the ministries and the relevant provincial departments. This is the most urgent issue at hand.”

During the meeting, it was agreed that they will work to enhance cooperation between authorities at the national and provincial levels, particularly to monitor the situation in the business sector and to help implement current legislation.

They also agreed to study the possibility of drafting new laws to regulate the sector.

Taing Sochet Krisna, director of Preah Sihanoukville’s tourism department, who was present at the meeting, told Khmer Times yesterday that they also agreed to create a joint-working group to enforce current regulation and guide the drafting of new one that will help keep the province “attractive and safe”.

According to Mr Sochet Krisna, last year the province welcomed nearly 2 million tourists, including 470,000 foreigners.

Of total foreign arrivals, nearly 120,000 were Chinese, an increase of 126 percent year-on-year.

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