Representatives of more than 50 groups yesterday urged the government to reconsider its decision to rescind the ban on foreigners working in the informal sector.
In a joint statement, the groups expressed concern that the foreigners will deprive Cambodians of the means to earn a living.
“We request the government to reinstate the August 28 directive which banned foreign nationals from self-employment in 10 categories of work,” the statement said, noting that this would ensure that Cambodians improve their living standards by working in the informal sector.
The groups included the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community; Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation; Cambodian Labour Confederation; Cambodia Centre for Human Rights; Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia; Youth Resource Development Programme; Thmor Thom Association; Samakum Teang Tnaut; Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights; and Gender and Development for Cambodia.
Vorn Pov, IDEA president, yesterday said that the recent announcement by the Labour Ministry to lift the ban on foreigners reopened opportunities for them to compete with Cambodian workers in the informal sector.
“Our workers in the informal sector and the self-employed will risk losing customers and income which will result in lower living standards,” he said. “It may force them to go abroad to find work.”
Mr Pov noted that lifting the ban is not in line with the government’s Rectangular Strategy in the fourth phase of poverty reduction in Cambodia.
Heng Sour, Labour Ministry spokesman, yesterday said that the ban was lifted following requests from the private sector.
“They requested for foreign nationals to be allowed to be self-employed again because certain sectors, including tourism and the service sector, require foreign investment,” he said.
Mr Sour said that the ministry was not concerned about the number of foreigners or the amount they invest in business, noting that they must be legally registered with the Commerce Ministry or have obtained licences from relevant institutions.
“We do not discriminate against foreign nationals who live in the Kingdom legally, carry out legal businesses, follow the laws and do not threaten public order,” he said. “Our doors are open for them.”