The head of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) rebuffed members’ complaints yesterday about annual dues and export fees, stating that the fees were “not negotiable” and companies were free to leave the industry body if they wished.
Following numerous complaints last week about its $200 annual membership fee and export fees of $0.5 per tonne for white rice and $1 for fragrant rice, CRF President Sok Puthyvuth said rice millers and exporters should view these costs as an investment into improving the industry as a whole.
“What we have done so far is based on the agreement we made with all the members to address their issues, but if they feel the CRF is not important for their business, there is no need for them to invest with us,” he said. “They [the members] want to see rapid results, but the big issues the industry faces cannot be resolved with immediate results.”
Some members had complained about the high cost of rice production and increased regional competition, which they said made it hard for them to afford CRF fees. However, Puthyvuth called on companies to take a more long-term approach.
He noted that even with state financial support rice millers have struggled to perform, which he said was an indication that the problems needed to be addressed sector-wide with the leadership of the CRF.
“Our issues are not only for rice exporters but they are for the whole rice industry network,” he said. “We need to solve the problems well enough so that we can have consistent positive results in the long term.”
He added that the CRF has already provided significant support to its members by negotiating reduced electricity costs, providing value added tax exemptions, cutting logistics costs and helping millers receive international rice certifications.