Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protesters take aim at prices

Protesters take aim at prices

A sign attached to a tuk-tuk parked in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance
A sign attached to a tuk-tuk parked in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance during a protest demanding fuel prices be cut yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Protesters take aim at prices

Tuk-tuk, motorbike and taxi drivers were among hundreds of workers from Cambodia’s “informal economy” who called on the government yesterday to cap fuel prices at 4,000 riel ($1) per litre, amid claims that the current 5,000 riel price leaves them unable to cover any more than daily living costs.

The group rallied outside the Ministry of Economy and Finance, a short walk from Freedom Park, where opposition party supporters protesting against July’s election and garment workers demanding higher wages converged yesterday.

Vorn Pao, the president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, led the splinter demonstration. Pao said people who work in the informal sector – mainly transportation – suffer greatly when fuel prices rise, as they subsequently drive up the cost of food and everyday necessities.

“We are spending a large percentage of income on gasoline. Higher gasoline prices are a key factor in the price of other goods. So, with higher priced goods, low-income earners cannot afford to buy goods from the market,” Pao said.

He added that the association will submit an official letter to the ministry over the coming days, putting its demands in print. Pao’s claims come a month after the Cambodian government ordered customs officials to apply official taxation rates to imports, reportedly causing a 30 per cent price increase on some items.

Several tuk-tuk drivers who were at the protest said gasoline price jumps have become more regular, and many have come to simply expect paying more every time they fill up, despite earning less on the job.

“Since the price of gasoline is high, I can only cover daily expenses. I can’t save for my family,” said Srun Phalla, a 28-year-old tuk-tuk driver who attended the protest yesterday.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia imported 871,013 tons of gasoline during the first half of the year from Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. The total value was $825 million.

Chou Vichet, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said in the first 11 months this year the government has subsidised $83 million worth of fuel to stabilise gasoline prices.

He would not confirm any future price reduction.

“We need to study what goods should be taxed at a higher rate and what goods should be taxed at a lower rate to facilitate living conditions,” he said. “[We need to know] which goods are necessary and which are not.”


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said