Foreigners banned from running a small business and being self-employed

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
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The Labour Ministry yesterday issued a directive banning foreign nationals from working as taxi drivers, street vendors and a handful of other jobs in the informal sector.

Labour Minister Ith Samheng in the directive said foreigners are also banned from working as tuk-tuk drivers, truck drivers, barbers, masseuses, hairdressers, goldsmiths, shoeshiners, traditional instrument sellers, Buddha statue sellers, souvenir sellers and mechanics. Foreigners are also banned from running a small business and being self-employed.

“A self-employed person refers to those who work and have income without an employer,” Mr Samheng said in the directive.

He said that the Labour Ministry will no longer issue or renew work permits for foreigners working these jobs, and those who failed to comply with the directive could be punished under the Labour Laws.

According to a Labour Ministry report, there are 160,077 foreigners from 93 countries working in the Kingdom across all sectors. More than 100,000 are Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Malaysian, South Korean, Indian and Briton.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, yesterday said the directive is to supplement the Labour Laws on foreign workers in the informal job sector.

Mr Thorn said the government noticed that having foreigners in the job sector creates competition with locals.

“This directive is to take some jobs away from foreigners who live and work in Cambodia,” he said. “It aims to help local people, especially those in the informal job sector.”

Mr Thorn noted that similar measures have been taken in other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

“I think the majority of foreigners who take these jobs are Vietnamese and Chinese nationals,” he said. “If foreigners open a business and register with the ministry, they can still do it, but if they are self-employed, it is not allowed.”

Sandra d’Amico, vice president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations, welcomed the move as it was fair and reasonable, and good for business.

Ms d’Amico added that it will also make Cambodia more competitive.

“I think that it is very beneficial for the local economy because you see in every country, it helps protect employment and it [creates] opportunity for local people,” she said.

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