The number of foreigners issued with Cambodian work permits this year has more than doubled that of last year. The increase was driven by Chinese workers whose contribution alone could generate millions for the Kingdom’s economy each year.
Figures from the General Immigration Department, which comes under the Ministry of Interior showed that from January to August this year, the number of foreigners who registered for work permits had reached 118,280, compared with 57,000 last year.
Department chief Kem Sarin said the huge number of new work permits that were issued was a positive economic indicator and a solid source of revenue. He said the fees that foreigners pay in order to work legally go directly to the government.
However, he said the figures do not include foreigners who are working in Cambodia without registering for a work permit.
“There is still a large number of [foreigners] who are not fulfilling the requirement. In some areas such as along the border, where many casinos operate, there are many foreigners who evade the obligation,” Sarin said.
He said his department “very frequently” sends inspection teams to companies and enterprises with foreign workers to check on work permits.
The department’s data did not break down the nationalities of the 118,280 foreigners who were issued work permits.
To comply with the Kingdom’s labour law, he said, foreign businesses also had to pay fees for their foreign workers. In some cases, this can be $100 per employee for one year with $25 renewals.
As the number of foreigners staying and working in Cambodia increases, the number of Chinese nationals are seen rapidly increasing in the Kingdom in the last two years.
The ministry’s secretary of state Sok Phal said recently that the number of Chinese nationals living in Cambodia had increased to 210,000, more than double that of last year.
“Of the figure, more than 78,000 are living in Preah Sihanouk [province], but only about 20,000 have work permits,” he told The Post earlier this month.
Centre for Policy Studies director Chan Sophal estimated that Cambodia could generate about $60 million each year from the current number of Chinese nationals if the law on foreign workers was effectively implemented.
Sophal said he came by the $60 million figure by calculating the basic types of permits that foreigners must have to work and live in Cambodia, including visas, work permits and long-stay permits.
“Based on this, the revenue could reach about $60 million per year from the number of Chinese nationals. But does anyone know if the authorities have actually fully enforced the law and fully obtained the revenue?” he asked.
The $60 million estimate is almost equal to the revenue from the Angkor Archaeological Park ticket sales.
According to figures from Angkor Enterprise, which manages the park, the number of visitors to the Kingdom’s landmark tourist site reached nearly 1.4 million for the first six months this year, generating $61.47 million.