Govt-approved investment by Cambodians increases to $223 million in the first half of 2009 as investment board cites confidence among local entrepreneurs in a stable political climate
- $223m invested in the Kingdom by Cambodians in first half
- Up 30pc from $172m in same period last year
- $354m invested in tourism
Source: CHA and CDC
APPROVED investment by Cambodian companies in the Kingdom was up 30 percent to US$223 million in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, latest figures show.
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's investment arm, said the figure for the first six months of 2008 was $172 million.
Yun Heng, deputy director at the evaluation and incentive department at the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB), which is an arm of the CDC, said one reason behind the increase was greater local confidence in the stability of the Cambodian political environment.
Another reason cited is the increased sophistication of domestic investors, meaning that they are more confident about pursuing potential opportunities that present themselves.
"The growth in investment that we are seeing is [up and down] like a wave, and we are yet to enjoy stable growth," he said.
Yun Heng said most investment went into the tourism sector as investors put cash into projects including hotels and guesthouses.
Investment in the hotel sector by Cambodians is ... more than from overseas.
The president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, Luu Meng, said those opportunities had come about because construction materials had become cheaper and because more people are entering the hospitality industry, resulting in a stronger pool of workers.
"The result is that investment in the hotel sector by Cambodians is today worth more than hotel investment from overseas," Luu Meng said, referring to the report's finding that total external and internal investment in the tourism sector for the first half of the year stood at $354 million.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who used to head parliament's finance committee, said the government ought to devise and publish incentive policies for local investors.
He said most Cambodians want to run their businesses above-board, since doing otherwise benefits corrupt officials.
However, he said, there is not much information available to tell the Kingdom's investors how to operate legally.
"At the moment the government encourages only foreign investors, but if it sets incentive policies for local investors, it can help to solve some of the damage caused by the global economic crisis [we] are facing now," Son Chhay said.
"I believe that the size of local investment is probably much larger than this figure from CDC because most local investment is not officially registered."