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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garbage charges upset businessmen

Garbage charges upset businessmen

T AX charges for monthly garbage collection have been announced by the APD, and local businesses have described the rates as "very expensive."

French owned APD (Asia Pacific Development) took over responsibility for garbage collection and charging from the cash-strapped Phnom Penh Municipality (PPM) in June.

Under the 25 year contract APD was to beautify the city and pay the PPM $55,000 per 5 years for having the right to charge residents a "reasonable price" for the collection of garbage .

APD's Cambodian representative Chea Sophorn told the Post the following garbage collection rates would apply to Phnom Penh premises: average sized houses would be charged $1 per month; villas and shops -$5 per month; restaurants and foreign rental villas-$20 per month; oil depots and embassies -$50 per month; night clubs and banks-$100 per month; medium size hotels, cinemas, factories, and international standard hotels-$200 per month; market stalls and roadside stands would be charged 100 riel per month.

Sophorn said government buildings and poor people [who live in huts] would be exempt from the tax.

He added that the rates may vary for particular hotels and businesses depending on their size and the revenues they earned.

But he said the charges would be applied to houses independently of the volume of garbage collected at the premise.

The collection fees were made public after receiving approval from the Council of Ministers on Aug 4.

Anyone who does not pay the tax is liable to a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, according to a law recently signed by Son Soubert, second vice chairman of the National Assembly.

Sophorn's assistant, who requested anonymity, said the government instituted this law to avoid protest between rate payers and the APD officials collecting the tax.

Business people say they are amazed by the hefty prices, and further that they are not used to paying such charges. Some people complained when the APD officials came to collect the tax.

A staff member from Orchidee hotel said: "I think it is very expensive to charge us $35 per month for our hotel which has only 25 rooms.

A staff member from Pailin hotel said: "I think it is very expensive. Pailin pays $50 per month for the 80 room hotel."

The manager of one company, who sought anonymity, said: "APD officials are coming to my premises to collect the tax and they are not even regularly collecting the garbage."

Sophorn's assistant denied having missed collecting rubbish from certain premises but he admitted APD may have been tardy in some areas.

An APD tax collector, who requested anonymity, said he had initially experienced some difficulties in collecting the tax.

But Sophorn's assistant said that after discussions with the people they began to understand the money would be used to clean and beautify Phnom Penh.

The Pailin hotel staff member said: "I realize the money is going to beautify the city and improve garbage collectors living standards. I have pity for the garbage collectors."

The Orchidee hotel staff member said: "We have to respect the APD's policy as long as the area is clean."

The APD collector said: "People were encouraged to help APD clean the city, especially foreign NGOs and embassies."

To help keep Phnom Penh clean the government also has plans to fine people 2,000 riel for littering, repeat offenders will be fined up to 50,000 riel.

Sophorn said APD was not like other companies who were here just to make profits.

He said APD's profits would be reinvested in the country and spent on things such as beautification works, civic education campaigns on cleanliness, increasing employee salaries and buying garbage collection machinery.

He said APD had already increased the salary for collectors from 45,000 riel to 50,000 riel and the company was looking to establish a bonus scheme for hard working employees.

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