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Daily calls for ‘true audit’ as Tax Department refutes challenges

Daily staffers stand with placards bearing the slogan ‘Save the Daily’ yesterday at their Phnom Penh offices.

The Cambodia Daily yesterday sent a letter to the Tax Department questioning the amount of back taxes it owes and requesting a meeting with department officials. The letter to the Tax Department’s Kong Vibol, who has repeatedly said the Daily will be shut down on September 4 if it doesn’t pay $6.3 million in taxes and penalties allegedly accrued over the last decade, follows a speech on Tuesday by Prime Minister Hun Sen in which he called the paper the “chief thief”, telling it to “pack your things and leave” if it didn’t pay up. Yesterday’s letter contests the “figures, calculations and assumptions” used for the assessment of back taxes, based on an evaluation by their tax lawyer, calling it “egregiously wrong and in violation of the normal process”.

Thousands of migrants must depart Thailand

Migrant workers wait to be processed at the registration centre in Chiang Mai in Thailand earlier this month.

More than 3,300 undocumented Cambodian migrant workers, including children, have been deemed ineligible for legal status in interviews with the Thai Labour Ministry and will now have to leave the country, according to Thailand’s Employment Department. In June, Thailand imposed hefty fines and prison terms on undocumented migrants and their employers, but suspended their implementation until December 31. During a two-week window that ended on August 7, workers were able register with the Employment Department to get documented. The department is now interviewing employees and employers to verify their relationships, among other criteria.

PM pledges worker benefits

Prime Minister Hun Sen poses for photographs with garment workers during his visit yesterday to New Evergreen Industrial Co Ltd in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.

Prime Minister Hun Sen held forth to some 17,000 workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone yesterday, reiterating promises of new benefits, publicising increases in maternity leave allowances – and warning against a repeat of nationwide strikes that followed the contentious 2013 national election. Continuing his weekly efforts to court the Kingdom’s roughly 700,000 garment workers, the premier played up recent vows to provide free health care, public transport and a higher minimum wage for the sector. He also pointed to three-month maternity leave entitlements for women equal to 120 percent of their salary, set to begin this month. The maternity leave pay, according to unionist and National Social Security Fund board member Ath Thorn, comprises a 50 percent contribution by employers and a 70 percent allowance from the NSSF, and was mandated in October last year.

Upbeat OPIC eyes Kingdom firms for future investment

A motorcycle passes in front of an Acleda bank branch in Phnom Penh.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is “optimistic” about its recent investments in Cambodia’s financial sector, a representative said yesterday, adding that the US government’s development finance agency hopes to eventually direct some of its lending facilities to local SMEs. Geoffrey Tan, Asia-Pacific regional representative of OPIC, told an AmCham breakfast briefing that OPIC has earmarked $4 billion in finance capital for Asia, though its existing investments in Southeast Asia remain low by comparison to those in Africa and Latin America. He said the loan facilities that the agency provides help to provide economic growth and “long-term stability structure”. “If our investments don’t work, the developmental effects we want to see won’t happen,” he said.

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