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We lack workers, Khon Kaen tells PM

We lack workers, Khon Kaen tells PM

CAMBODIA’S first sugar plantation, to be inaugurated later this month, will not be able to run at full capacity due to a shortage of suitable labour, the president of Khon Kaen Sugar Industry Plc told Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday.

Chamroon Chinthammit told Hun Sen at a meeting in Phnom Penh that the new factory in Koh Kong has the capacity to crush 6,000 tonnes of sugarcane per day, according to the prime minister’s spokesman Eang Sophalleth. With the current manpower at its disposal, the facility would only be able to process 2,000 tonnes per day due to the labour shortage, he added.

Philip Securities said in June that Khon Kaen’s operations in Cambodia and Laos had run into “more difficulties than previously thought by … [Khon Kaen] management” due to scarcity of labour – particularly skilled workers – resulting in a lower sugar yield.

These problems could lead the Thai firm to report losses of another 50 million baht (US$1.51 million) in 2010, Philip added, with production expected to remain below the break-even level.

The project has generated about 3,500 jobs and includes a 20,000-hectare sugarcane plantation in Sre Ambol district.

Chamroon also told the premier Monday that his firm had worked with the local authorities in Koh Kong province to encourage farmers to grow sugarcane to supply the plant, according to Eang Soppalleth.

During the meeting, Chamroon invited Hun Sen to the official opening of the plant on January 25, to which the prime minister accepted, the spokesman said after the meeting.

The US$90.6 million plant – which is 70 percent owned by Khon Kaen and 30 percent by Vewong Corp of Taiwan – has suffered delays since construction began in 2007.

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