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Government eyes fuel taxes

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The government plans to review fuel import taxes in the wake of soaring prices at the pump over the past few weeks, an official said yesterday.

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Cheam Yeap, Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and chairman of the finance and banking commission, said the government will look into such measures as reducing the oil import tax and pushing for Chevron to increase its oil exploration activity in Cambodia.

“Right now, we need to cut some more taxation of the oil and gas importing to reduce the price [of fuel],” he said.

Cambodia imports 100 per cent of its gasoline, he said,

attributing recent price hikes to oil-producing companies and bodies like OPEC controlling prices in the global market.   

Meanwhile, civil society organisations petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday to lower fuel prices.  

Representatives of 18 CSOs, led by the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, which represents motodops, tuk tuk drivers, vendors, factory workers and students, submitted the petition at the National Assembly building.

The petition states that the price of gasoline had recently shot up nine per cent from 5,500 riel (US$1.38) to 6,000 riel (US$1.50) per litre.

It asks the premier “to take measures of effectiveness to lower the price of petroleum”, and to decrease the price of gasoline to 4,000 riel or to prices comparable to neighbouring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

Vorn Pov, director of IDEA, said the higher fuel prices seriously affect the livelihoods of people nationwide and obstructs poverty reduction strategies.

Fuel prices in Cambodia are higher than those across the region he said, saying the average cost was $1.27 in Thailand, $1 in Myanmar, $1.10 in Laos and $1.05 in Vietnam.

The coalition would take further measures if fuel prices remained unchanged, he added.

“We [CSOs] will make a big demonstration of marching on May 1 to demand the government reduce the price of gasoline to 4,000 riel per litre if the government does not respond,” he said.  

Om Visal, labour dispute resolution official of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said prices across the board, including food and utilities, had increased because of the hike in fuel prices.

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