With all the concern these days over the government being broke the Gecko has
been receiving a number of tips on where the authorities might want to look for some
easy revenue. See, its not that revenue isn't coming in, rather the problem is how
to keep it from going into someone's pocket.
A good first target would be the boys at the airport who issue visas and who do their
job with a smile as long as nobody asks for a receipt. Issuing a receipt means keeping
records, and keeping records means questions by higher ups like "Where's the
money?" It may not be an enormous amount of taxes but if you figure $20 per
visa times 200 visas per day times 30 days you get $120,000 a month. Someone at the
Ministry of Finance should start asking where's the $120,000?
Another, much larger source of taxes can be found, so the Gecko is told, down in
Sre Ambel district on the coast. UNTAC sources say that over 1,000 cars a month are
coming in illegally. They know where the warehouses are and have even boarded freighters
with over 100 cars on board only to be chased away by CPAF soldiers at gunpoint.
One UNTAC official estimates that the lost revenue on untaxed imported vehicles would
come to around U.S. $5 million per month. That's half of what the government claims
it needs to pay civil servants.
During this interim transitional period many of the new FUNCINPEC ministers are trying
to get settled although the Gecko hears that the reception at some of the offices
around town has been less than enthusiastic.
If you go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ask for the new Minister the receptionist
at the front door says he doesn't know where the Minister's office is, what his telephone
number is or how you can leave a message for him. All the while Minister HRH Norodom
Sirivuth is sitting upstairs.
An astonished, concerned member of UNTAC reports that when you enter the Finance
Section at the SNC you are confronted by the smell of cats and disinfectant. Apparently
two little kitties have been offered a home there and can be found sleeping on in-trays,
the computer printer or curled up in a file drawer. The Gecko was asked to comment
on this "unprecedented" state of affairs. Sometimes charity begins at your
This report just in from Luang Prabang. Watch out for the young monks at the temples
there, especially those under ten years of age. They seem to have a penchant for
pinching female visitors.
The Gecko wonders if anyone else is outraged at the double standard exchange rates
offered by hotels around town. An example: if you buy something for $2.50 and pay
the 50 cents in riels, one hotel asks for 1200. If you give them three bucks they
give you 600 riels back. Is this kind of creative math really necessary?
One traveller reports that there was a bit of a shoot-up in Kampot recently. A group
of CPAF sliders on their way back from Kep stopped at the Bokor Dancing Restaurant
and corralled all 40 of the Vietnamese bar girls to the consternation of the local
police chief who had also stopped in for a fling. After a few harsh words the troops
left with the policeman in hot pursuit.
The soldiers were pulled over outside of town and the sheriff approached the car
with pistol in hand. Another car showed up with more armed troops and the policeman,
seeing he was outnumbered, decided to put his own gun away. He was then beat up and
left on the road. As the soldiers were walking away he fired, hitting three. Return
gunfire cost the sherriff his life.
The CPAF troops tried to flee the scene but were pulled over down the road by some
more police where they were beat up and killed.
Just another quiet Sunday in Kampot.