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Business secrecy a concern for organisers of economic census

Business secrecy a concern for organisers of economic census

GOVERNMENT officials have voiced concerns that Cambodia’s first economic census, slated for next March and costing up to US$3 million, could be made more difficult by uncooperative businesses.

The economic census, largely funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, aims to gather concrete business-related information to facilitate foreign investment and organise national-level business strategy, according to officials.

San Sy Than, general director of the Ministry of Planning’s National Institute of Statistics, said concerns of business confidentiality made the economic census more difficult to carry out than the population census.

But he encouraged businesses to trust the census officials.

“[The economic census] is smaller, but it’s more difficult to do than the population census,” he told the Post at the close of a meeting held between the NIS and JICA officials on Tuesday.

“We expect that the businesses will cooperate well and give the correct information. We will keep all the [company specific] information confidential.”

Cambodia’s last population census in 2008 cost around US$7 million, he said.

Mong Reththy, senator and head of agriculture giant Mong Reththy Group, said he would be willing to cooperate without secrecy with government requests for information.

“I have no reason to hide anything. I’m happy to answer all the questions they want to ask,” he said.

The economic census, which is undertaken in many other countries throughout the world, would help the government gather official data to construct national economic policy and attract investment to the Kingdom, San Sy Than said.

The census will take place from March 1 to 31 and will employ more than 20,000 people and 4,000 officials to interview business owners, he said. Preliminary results will be released in July next year, with official results released in March 2012.

The NIS’ last survey in early 2009 found 375,095 enterprises operated in the Kingdom, not including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mobile-network businesses.

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