Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expats tapped as rubber saviours

Expats tapped as rubber saviours

Expats tapped as rubber saviours

C AMBODIAN rubber companies are rushing to foreign investors to bring the industry back from "ruin" as the government moves toward privatizing parts of it.

"Everything is in ruin - poor factories, poor quality," was the conclusion of Teng Lor, Director of the government's General Department of Rubber Plantations.

The government recently took the first step toward opening up the industry by allowing Cambodian rubber factories to export directly, but only with the cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Previously, one government firm had the monopoly on exporting rubber products.

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has said the government intends to lease rubber plantations to foreign firms to introduce competition and better quality.

The department's operations officer, Chea Song, said the biggest obstacle to foreign investment was the inadequate land ownership laws in Cambodia and Khmer Rouge security problems in many rubber growing areas.

Of the 20 foreign firms which had expressed interest in investing, only two French companies had applied to the government.

One company's proposal had been turned down because it wanted the government to put up 50 per cent of the capital investment.

Teng Lor said the rubber industry had suffered severely from inadequate funding, mismanagement and corruption.

When the industry had been a government monopoly, the Ministry of Finance had handed over money for buying equipment and materials for rubber factories, but not checked how it was spent.

Much of the money went into the pockets of factory officers, rather than being used for the purpose it was given.

Factories and plantations damaged by war, meanwhile, had often not been repaired or replaced.

There had been poor productivity, and low wages had led to workers pilfering raw and processed rubber.

The quality of Cambodian rubber had dropped considerably because of the damage caused by the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime, and the industry suffered heavily from the loss of its key official market, the Eastern bloc, from 1991.

The industry needed "new techniques, good management and the replanting of rubber trees", Teng Lor said.

"Investment is required soon. We need to improve our products in order to compete on the international markets."

A staff member of a rubber firm in Snoul in Kratie province told the Post that poor management, staff looting and problems with the Khmer Rouge were still common.

Company bosses warned the staff not to steal the latex products the factory made, but stole them themselves, he said.

"We are poor. We have to steal the latex, it is for our survival."

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all