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Motorists report gouging by Phnom Penh tax officials

Motorists report gouging by Phnom Penh tax officials

Motorists say their annual fees have risen as much as 50 percent as collectors pad their pockets to defray office expense costs 

OVERCHARGING for road fees by municipal tax collectors could be costing nearly US$300,000 this year, say motorists.

There were about 670,000 motorbike drivers nationwide in Cambodia last year, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The government enforces two types of motorbike taxes. Drivers with motor sizes of 70cc or less pay 3,000 riels (US$0.75) per year, while those with motors greater than 70cc pay 4,500 riels.

But tax collection officials are charging motorists an additional 1,500 to 2,000 riels for official stickers to prove compliance with road taxes, say drivers.

"I paid 5,000 riels for my 50cc Honda Cub instead of the 3,000 the government normally charges," Phnom Penh resident Ing Virak, 29, told the Post this week.

Other motorists report similar experiences. Hean Ran, a 30-year-old moto taxi driver from Tuol Sangke, said tax collectors required him to pay an additional 1,500 riels this year.

"I don't know why they forced me to pay extra, but I paid it because I didn't want to waste any more time there or risk being stopped by police later for not having a tax sticker," he said.

One tax collector who declined to give his name said the additional charges were intended to cover administrative fees.

"I charge extra to cover the cost of paper and writing for processing the tax," the official said.

Motorists also complain that tax-collection procedures and documentation are unnecessarily complicated, while tax stickers have increasingly become a target for thieves.

Sek Borisoth, director of the anti-corruption group Pact, said motorists should be given proper documentation to prove they have paid taxes even if their stickers have been stolen.

Sim Eang, director of the Tax Department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the department has already announced new tax procedures through local media that will make compliance much easier for motorists.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHUN SOPHAL

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