Sleeker tax system nets more revenue Phnom Penh Post 26th Jan 2017
Efforts to introduce an effective, modern taxation system appear to be paying off as government coffers swelled last year, giving the state more revenue to use for development at a time when donor aid is drying up. Tax collection revenue grew by 15 percent to $1.49 billion last year, according to newly released data from the General Authority for Taxation (GDT).
Coal-fired plant tests new power generator Phnom Penh Post 31st Jan 2017
Coal-fired plant tests new power generator Structural testing of the third unit of a 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant under development in Preah Sihanouk province has begun, with the new unit expected to go online by the end of the quarter, a government official said yesterday. The 135-megawatt power-generating unit, which was initially slated to be operational last month, will add to the existing 270-megawatt capacity of the massive Cambodia International Investment Development Group (CIIDG) power station, which first fired up in late 2014. A $383 million joint venture between CIIDG, owned by influential Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, and China-based Erdos Hongjun Electric Power Co is developing the power plant under a 33-year build-operate-own concession from the government. While the company can officially start selling electricity from the new unit once it passes the compliance checks, Lean said the government has not set a definitive date to start purchasing electricity. That would depend on Electricite du Cambodge (EdC), the state-owned energy provider, he said. This easily eclipsed any single hydroelectric dam project, as well as the 100-megawatt coal-fired plant owned by Malaysia’s Leader Universal Holdings that sits adjacent to it.
Solar pegged for urban expansion Phnom Penh Post 27th Jan 2017
Solar power has always been an easier sell in sun-drenched rural Cambodia, where millions of villagers live beyond the reach of electrical grids and those with connections face tariffs up to a staggering 3,000-riel per kilowatt hour. Declining prices of solar technology and a growing array of installment plans geared for low-income families have convinced an increasing number of villagers to harness the sun to power their homes. But convincing Cambodia’s city-dwellers to invest in solar power is a much steeper challenge, though one that solar energy provider Kamworks Utility says it is now ready to tackle. Ken Bradley, the company’s director of business development, said yesterday that after years of routine installations in rural areas, Kamworks is considering opportunities to deploy solar technologies in Phnom Penh’s urban jungle. He said the initial focus would likely be on new residential developments, such as apartment buildings and condominiums. The Dutch-founded solar company has already tested the market, inking a deal with a local property management firm last October to install and maintain photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on the roof of Silvertown Metropolitan, a 110-unit serviced apartment tower in Boueng Keng Kang 1.
Brewery to tap solar power for expanded beverage line Phnom Penh Post 24th Jan 2017
Khmer Beverages, the maker of Cambodia beer, is nearing completion of an expansion to its brewery on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that will nearly triple its production of beer and add new beverage lines, as well as what could be the largest deployment of an industrial solar panel array in the Kingdom. The company has sunk $120 million into expanding its production facility on the capital’s southern flank, its president, Peter Leang, said yesterday during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with local firm Kamworks Utility for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the building complex. Crowning the expanded building complex will be an array of up to 10,000 solar panels, according to Ken Bradley, utility director of business development at Kamworks. The installation, the solar energy company’s biggest to date, would allow the beverage factory to significantly reduce its power costs. According to Bradley, the project will follow a lease model, where Khmer Beverages will purchase the energy produced from the panels directly from Kamworks. Arjen Luxwolda, chief operating officer of Kamworks Utility, said that the exact percentage of energy the factory will receive from the solar panels has not yet been determined. He added that for solar to really have an impact in the country, the government would need to allow companies or individuals to sell back excess electricity to the national grid through net metering. “Net metering needs to be the issue everyone is talking about,” he said. “Without it we cannot make major progress with solar energy in Cambodia.”
Gender workshops for sustainable energy in Lao PDR and Cambodia Eco-Business 19th Jan 2017
Representatives of a diverse set of stakeholders contributed to consultative gender workshops and meetings in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cambodia held in December in the framework of two sustainable energy projects funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project in Cambodia aims to increase rural electrification and also mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of commercial biogas-to-power systems. The 20 participants at the workshop in Cambodia discussed the gender dimensions of biogas promotion. The interactive workshop benefitted from a presentation by UN Women and the participation of representatives from Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), the Dutch non-governmental organization, SNV, Gender and Development Cambodia, the Royal University of Agriculture, Foreign Trade Bank, and others. The project in Lao People’s Democratic Republic targets the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the salt and wood processing sectors through pelletization technology. During the consultative gender workshop, which was supported by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the 18 participants discussed the gender dimensions of solid biofuel projects from different perspectives. Souvanthone Souvannachack, Deputy Head of the Policy and Legislation Division, National Commission for the Advancement of Women, presented the current status of gender equality in the country.
Fintech potential still untapped Phnom Penh Post 2nd Feb 2017
Fintech potential still untapped Digital financial services have the potential to significantly expand economic activity in Cambodia by bridging the gap between existing financial products and growing credit needs, according to a new study. Adopting digital financial services, or fintech, could increase the Kingdom’s GDP by about 6 percent, the authors of Accelerating Financial Inclusion in Southeast Asia with Digital Finance, a report commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), concluded. Fintech has the potential to generate more than $1.7 billion in additional electronic payment flows, fuel more than $2.5 billion in additional credit uptake and mobilise more than $500 million in savings, they said.
Tax tweak makes it hard to hide Phnom Penh Post 1st Feb 2017
Tax tweak makes it hard to hide An amendment to the tax code gives government auditors clearer authority to access individual and corporate financial data, providing a tool to identify tax evasion and a deterrent to prevent it, tax professionals said yesterday. Article 99 of the 2017 Law on Financial Management, which went into effect on January 1, updated the language of a provision that allows the General Department of Taxation (GDT) to request financial data from various financial institutions during the audit process instead of relying on documentation submitted by the taxpayer. Anthony Galliano, CEO of Cambodian Investment Management, said the updated legislation gives GDT auditors clearer authority to scrutinise discrepancies between bank statements and tax returns, a measure that places the onus on the taxpayer to fully record and properly account for taxable business activity. To prevent taxpayers from misreporting or underpaying, the tax authority now has a legal mandate to compare bank debits and credits in an account, as well as reported expenses and potentially understated profit, he said.
Revised capital rules driving financial sector FDI growth Phnom Penh Post 25th Jan 2017
Revised capital rules driving financial sector FDI growth The central bank’s decision last March to raise the minimum capital requirements of financial institutions in order to strengthen and stabilise the financial sector has led to an increase in foreign capital flowing into the banking sector, according to industry experts. In its annual report released on Sunday, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) noted that total foreign direct investment (FDI) into lending institutions accounted for nearly a quarter of the $2.15 billion injected into the economy last year. In total, over $539 million in FDI was directed to the financial institutions, a 5 percent increase over 2015. In Channy, president and CEO of Acleda Bank, said the increase of foreign capital pumped into the banking sector showed the extent to which financial institutions were still largely dependent on overseas partners.
» MEF: Macroeconomic Management 2017 Focuses on Three Main Aspects Agence Kampuchea Presse 25th Jan 2017
Food & Agriculture
AKP Phnom Penh, January 25, 2017 – Macroeconomic and budget preparation and management 2017 focus on three main aspects, said Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) H.E. Vongsey Vissoth in a public forum on budget law 2017 held here on Monday. First, to ensure the smooth, transparent and acceptable conduct of commune/Sangkat council election in 2017; second, to support the country’s socio-economic change by focusing on key sectors such as agriculture, industry, services, and so on; and third, to manage risks from both inside and outside the country, especially respond to the uncertainty of global and regional economy, he explained. According to H.E. Vongsey Vissoth, the national budget 2017 shows Cambodia’s efforts, independence and mastery on budget. This year’s planned budget increased to some US$5,223 million, or 14 times higher than that in 1994 (US$350 million). Besides, the foreign financing source in national budget dropped from 66 percent in 1994 to only 21 percent in 2017, emphasized H.E. Secretary of State. By So Sophavy & Lim Nary
Hundreds of Poultry Culled in Svay Rieng After Bird Flu Outbreak The Cambodia Daily 2nd Feb 2017
Hundreds of chickens and ducks infected with H5N1 bird flu have been culled in Svay Reing province after an outbreak of the virus last week, the first reported cases since November 2015. Flocks of birds belonging to three farming families in Svay Chrum district’s Bassac commune have been destroyed by officials as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus, said Thach Rotana, director of the provincial agriculture department. In 2015, an outbreak in the provinces of Siem Reap and Battambang led to the deaths of more than 2,000 ducks, less than a year after two children also died from the virus.
Communities protest sugar disputes Phnom Penh Post 1st Feb 2017
Communities protest sugar disputes Hundreds of people representing communities locked in long-running land disputes in four provinces came to Phnom Penh yesterday to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Hun Sen, asking him to sign off on an EU-backed initiative to evaluate the conflicts. The communities from Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Kampong Speu provinces yesterday filed a petition to seek the government’s intervention in their disputes with several sugar companies whose state-granted economic land concessions (ELCs) had led to serious human rights violations. The petition called on the prime minister to sign a draft proposal – financially supported by the EU – for the ministries of commerce, land, agriculture and environment to review their disputes. The ministries submitted the proposal months ago, Equitable Cambodia head Eang Vuthy said yesterday, but since then, it has languished.
Farmers weeding out drudgery with mechanised equipment Phnom Penh Post 31st Jan 2017
Farmers weeding out drudgery with mechanised equipment Cambodia is shaking off the legacy of the Khmer Rouge’s agrarian dystopia and deploying increasingly sophisticated agricultural machinery to reduce human and animal toil, and increase productivity, according to the latest government data. A Ministry of Agriculture report released this month shows the use of mechanised agricultural equipment has doubled in the past five years and over 90 percent of farming land preparation is now done by machinery instead of draft animals. According to the ministry report, the number of tractors operating in the Kingdom has risen nearly threefold in the past five years to 18,317. The figures also a marked increase in the usage of harvesters, with the number deployed rising over 320 percent in five years to 6,605. Milling machinery use increased 13 percent to 54,965 during the period, while threshing machines – which remove seeds from cereal grains – dipped 10 percent to 13,765.
Cambodia’s rice exports fall sharply Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia | 25th Jan 2017
Cambodia’s milled rice exports only grew by a dismal 0.7 percent last year compared with 2015 and this was the lowest since 2014, according to government figures released yesterday. In the first quarter of last year, a severe drought affected rice production and through the year rice millers had been complaining of the flow of low-grade cheaper rice into the country from Vietnam. In late September, the government responded by making out a $27 million loan to rice millers to purchase paddy rice from farmers, in a bid to prevent rice prices from falling further. Cambodia’s rice production costs were still very high compared with Thailand and Vietnam and that made the kingdom’s rice exports very uncompetitive in regional markets. According to the CRF’s Mr. Lak, the outlook for this year seems more positive. “China has formally agreed to purchase 200,000 tons of rice annually from Cambodia to help the country’s rice farmers and millers,” he said. “We are negotiating with Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Recently, we have had orders from Malaysia.”
Cassava industry left out to dry Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2017
Health & Life Sciences
With the start of the dry harvest season for cassava kicking off, farmers are calling for the government to support the struggling sector with initiatives to address recurring capital shortages and market volatility.
Vaccine program seeks to fight cancer Phnom Penh Post 23rd Jan 2017
More than 13,000 9-year-old girls in Cambodia will receive an HPV vaccine over the next two years as part of a new program seeking to reduce the country’s dismal cervical cancer rates.
NGOs may have stymied government health care: report Phnom Penh Post 25th Jan 2017
A new study examining the development of health care in post-conflict societies suggests that the influx of NGOs in Cambodia may have weakened the government health sector. The report, published last week by BioMed Central, compares Cambodia’s health care development after the fall of the Khmer Rouge to post-conflict health care development in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. The study concludes that Cambodia has been more dependent on health NGOs for a longer period of time than the other case studies. While it does acknowledge that “international aid was critical to support the country’s reconstruction”, the study also claims that conflicting agendas “did not help strengthening government stewardship and ownership of health sector development in the post-conflict period”.
Government warns of bird flu Khmer Times 25th Jan 2017
The Ministry of Health has called on all travelers to beware of a new strain of bird flu that is now spreading in South Korea and Japan. In a notice released yesterday, the Health Ministry said the discovery of H5N6, a new strain of the bird flu, led to the slaughter of nearly 20 million birds in South Korea and Japan. China is also dealing with a strain of the bird flu – H7N9 – which has killed 807 people since 2013. There have been no cases of either in Cambodia, but the H5N1 strain did find its way to the kingdom between 2005 and 2014, killing approximately 37 people. The ministry asked travelers to avoid visiting the countries with the strain and bird farms in general. They encouraged everyone to wash their hands with soap as often as possible.
Incubator launches startup in Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 1st Feb 2017
Incubator launches startup in Cambodia Confluences Asia, a local business development and consulting firm, launched its first startup in Cambodia yesterday as part of an incubation program aimed at supporting European businesses in the region by providing human resource, marketing and legal support. The company said in a press release that it launched Wendgo, a new digital provider of cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) services targeted at retail and the food and beverage businesses. The startup was the first to emerge from Confluences Asia’s incubation program, which aims to nurture SMEs that are focused on innovative strategies with high local impact. “
» Cambodia, Google Discuss ICT Cooperation Agence Kampuchea Presse 23rd Jan 2017
AKP Phnom Penh, January 23, 2017 – A senior official of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce have met here recently with a Google expert to discuss cooperation in the ICT field, said the ministry’s news release. The meeting took place last Friday between H.E. Sok Sopheak, Under Secretary of State for Commerce, and Ms. Marian Croak, Vice President of Access Strategy and Emerging Markets of Google. Both sides discussed the ministry’s plan to leverage ICT infrastructure development in Cambodia so as to take advantage of new business opportunities and address new challenges. The meeting also touched on the drafting of E-Commerce Law, and the use of Business Registration, Certificate of Origin, and Trade Mark Registration automation systems, etc. as well as the challenges of ICT in Cambodia. By Khan Sophirom
New Siem Reap Airport Construction Ordered, But Details Sparse The Cambodia Daily 2nd Feb 2017
The government agency that oversees the country’s airports is set to create a committee to assess the redevelopment of Siem Reap’s international airport, signaling the potential end of Cambodia Airports’ current monopoly. The construction bid follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Cambodia in October, during which he showered Prime Minister Hun Sen with economic development agreements. Among Mr. Xi’s offerings was a pledge to support or finance improvements to Siem Reap’s airport. Cambodia Airports, owned by French construction giant Vinci Group, is contracted to operate the country’s three international airports—the other two are in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville—until 2040. Under the deal, the government can terminate the agreement early as long as Cambodia Airports is properly compensated.
Proposed Skyline Train Is the Future, Transport Officials Say The Cambodia Daily 2nd Feb 2017
Anyone who has battled to get to work through congested roads during rush hour in Phnom Penh is only too aware just how long the daily commute across the city can take. But a solution could be in the offing—or rather, up in the air. Japan’s international aid agency is proposing to bring a driverless skyline train to the city, capable of whisking commuters on a smooth ride to and from work on a track above the streets. At the moment, the project is only at the planning stage—and similar plans have been discussed and apparently dropped—but it could provide the answer to Phnom Penh’s traffic problem if a proposed feasibility study discussed on Wednesday at City Hall bears fruit.
Standoff over Tbong Khmum farmland enters week two Phnom Penh Post 27th Jan 2017
Some 300 demonstrators from seven villages in Tbong Khmum province are entering their second week of protest against a local company’s ongoing attempts to clear farmland they say belongs to them, claiming the government tricked them out of their land in the 1990s. The villagers began protesting last Friday, building camps on the 500 hectares the government had granted to Sopheak Nika Investment company.
» Construction Sector Attracts 2,636 Projects Last Year Agence Kampuchea Presse 26th Jan 2017
AKP Phnom Penh, January 13, 2017 – Cambodia’s construction sector attracted 2,636 projects on a total land area of 14 million square metres, according to the figures from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. The total investment capital in the construction sector in 2016 was recorded at more than US$8.5 billion, a sharp increase of 155.6 percent from only US$3.3 billion the previous year. In 2015, 2,305 projects on more than 7 million square metres were approved by the ministry. The construction sector is one of the main pillars of the country’s economic growth and most of the projects are located in Phnom Penh. By Khan Sophirom
Cambodia mobile operators drive for 5G Bangkok Post 25th Jan 2017
Leading mobile operator Cellcard, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Royal Group, is teaming up with Nokia to expand LTE coverage nationwide in a move to jump to 5G in the upcoming year. Mobile broadband is recording a growth of 37% year-on-year in Cambodia, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Cambodia: Construction Workers struggle despite boom Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia | 25th Jan 2017
Cambodia’s booming construction sector has created many much-needed jobs, but as a new report by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) shows, several serious issues on salaries, health and safety need to be addressed. The construction sector has created about 200,000 jobs per day throughout the country, the report said.
Mondulkiri to try new land scheme Phnom Penh Post 25th Jan 2017
The World Wildlife Fund, in cooperation with Mondulkiri government officials, announced a new land-management initiative yesterday aimed at balancing environmental protection with economic development. “In the past, no coordinated land-use [policy] . . . led to many ELC, mining concessions and other concessions to be granted, very often inside protected areas,” Sam Ath added via email.
Cambodia joins global infrastructure fund in Davos Phnom Penh Post 19th Jan 2017
Prime Minister Hun Sen talks about investment opportunities in Cambodia at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Cambodia has become the first Asian country to sign on to the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), a global initiative that aims to unlock the funding of infrastructure projects through public-private sector partnerships.
Construction Investment Skyrockets in 2016 The Cambodia Daily 19th Jan 2017
The total value of construction projects approved last year more than doubled to $8.5 billion, according to figures released by the Land Management Ministry this week, amid heightened concerns of a credit bubble due to rapid growth in construction and real-estate loans.
National Assembly seat allocation distorted: think tank Phnom Penh Post 1st Feb 2017
The number of National Assembly seats for the 2018 elections does not match the size of the population in several provinces, leading to a distorted representation of votes, a new assessment by the think tank Future Forum shows. Barring one instance, when Preah Sihanouk province had two seats added as part of a one-time political deal, the number of parliamentary seats has not been changed since 1998. However, population growth has been much more rapid in some parts of the Kingdom than others – something that needs to be represented in terms of seat allocation, the report argues. Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy said in an email that the reason for the unequal representation was that the “CPP is afraid of the young and more educated or more social conscious people” who had contributed to population growth in some cities, and feared adding votes in those areas.
Cambodia Grows Patent System With Europe Deal The Cambodia Daily 26th Jan 2017
In the latest of a series of moves to modernize intellectual property rights, Cambodia has signed an agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) that the two sides say would make it the first Asian country to directly recognize European patents within its borders. Patents are typically granted separately by individual jurisdictions, even while their applications are streamlined globally through international agreements—notably the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which Cambodia signed last year. According to an EPO announcement on Tuesday, the new arrangement is scheduled to come into force in July once it is adopted into Cambodian law.
Protest data for city don’t add up Phnom Penh Post 25th Jan 2017
City Hall yesterday reported a threefold increase in the number of strikes and protests across Phnom Penh, largely due to garment worker protests, though the city’s numbers failed to match up with recent government figures and, in certain instances, their own. A report released during the city government’s annual meeting yesterday identified 1,326 protests and strikes last year, a considerable jump from 443 in 2015. It added that most incidents had the backing of political parties, NGOs and trade unions.
Mining survey turns up surface gold deposits Phnom Penh Post 25th Jan 2017
Canadian mining firm Angkor Gold Corp said a new augur assay identified gold mineralisation in a 2-metre-thick layer of laterite soil during a surface-level survey of its Okalla West prospect on its Banlung tenement in northeastern Cambodia.
Analysts: TPP demise saves Cambodia Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia | 24th Jan 2017
US President Donald Trump’s executive order pulling the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has allayed Cambodia’s fears that it would lose its competitiveness in the garment industry in favor of Vietnam. “As President Trump seems to favor bilateral agreements instead of regional ones, Cambodia could eventually seize this opportunity to negotiate one such bilateral agreement with the US,” added Mr. Van. Mr. Marshall said Cambodia has been diversifying its export markets which will mitigate any slowdown. However, he added: “The EU remains one of Cambodia’s major export destinations for garments and other products such as rice.”