VENDORS from Banlung Market in Ratanakkiri province demonstrated outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh villa this week, protesting what they say are exorbitant and illegal fees charged by the market’s owner.
A complaint from the vendors, which was eventually given to a representative of Hun Sun on Wednesday, says that Sa Leang, the market owner, has violated Ministry of Economy and Finance guidelines which state that US$90 is the maximum fee market owners can charge vendors each year.
The complaint asserts that the market owner, Sa Leang, charged vendors initial payments ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 in addition to subsequent payments of $90 per year for up to 35 years.
Khen Bunchhorn, a vendor who sells dresses, said that he has been asked to pay a total of US$5,000 in installments on top of a yearly fee of $90.
“I just paid $1,000 for the first year’s installment. Now they are forcing me to pay for the second year, but I do not have the money to pay,” he said.
Representative Teng Sophal said vendors would place their trust in the judgment of the prime minister, who earlier this month lashed out at market owners for imposing unnecessary upgrades to markets around the country.
Sa Leang said Tuesday that he has operated the market legally.
“I told vendors already that after the [initial] payments are made, I will not take” any more, he said.
“I have already told the Ministry of Economy and Finance there will be no more additional payments.”
Ton Sotharoth, the director of the provincial Department of Economy and Finance, said on Wednesday that he planned to look into the ongoing dispute.