With civil society, the opposition and even the ruling party talking more and more about the subject of electoral and judicial reforms in the wake of July’s contested national elections, some groups yesterday gathered to call for reforms in a more modest sector – parking fees.
The Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and Pacific (ANSA-EAP), the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA) and the Khmer Institute for National Development yesterday called on the Department of Economy and Finance to ensure that parking lot operators at state-run markets adhere to department guidelines on parking fees, arguing that true reform includes issues both big and small.
“The fee set by the Department of Economy and Finance is only 300 riel [7.5 cents] for the parking fee, but those businesspeople [who run the lots] charge one motorbike anywhere from 500 riel to 1,000 riel, and sometimes up to 2,000 riel,” reads a statement released by the groups.
“Such moves make millions of people disappointed and angry, and make them lose a lot of confidence in public administrative law,” it adds.
Private enterprises bid for the right to operate market parking lots, but must still adhere to Department of Economy and Finance pricing guidelines, said San Chey, a representative of ANSA-EAP. While overcharges may be relatively small, he added, they point to a larger unwillingness on the government’s part to take action.
“If the government wants to make deep reforms, they have to check on the small points [too], or the result of its reform will be fruitless and things will stay the same,” he said.
Bun Dany, a director of Phnom Penh’s Central Market, said that because of private operators, market officials don’t always have the clearest picture of the situation in their lots. And while complaints are rife, she added, they have no real means of enforcement.
“The market management just instructs them to follow the fees from the Department of Economy and Finance, [but] only the department has the right to fine them if they violate it,” she said.
The Department of Economy and Finance could not be reached yesterday.