Senior business leaders called for substantial cuts in transport costs and a greater
government effort to crack down on "hidden" charges at a meeting between
government, port officials and the heads of seven private sector working groups.
The ad hoc meeting on August 13 followed demands by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the
Private Sector Forum the previous week that costs, whether legal such as port fees,
or illegal, such as bribes, be curbed.
"This situation on the collection of high and illegal charges cannot be allowed
to continue," Hun Sen told the forum.
"I have taken a personal interest in this matter and have given strict instructions
to the heads of all the concerned authorities ... to take immediate action to wipe
out such illegal practices."
Despite such pledges, manufacturers at the August 13 meeting still expressed their
concerns over illegal charges and high transport costs. They quoted as one example
the proposed $18 toll to shift a single 40-foot container between Sihanoukville and
One observer who attended the talks the following week said "the good news is
the government moved really quickly to set up the meeting". However, there were
no promises of reductions in tolls or in the high fees paid for X-ray scanning of
containers in ports, which was another complaint of industry.
"We still don't know how rates for charges are justified and there were no promises
to reduce them," the observer noted.
Business leaders at the Private Sector Forum said high costs were hurting Cambodia's
The chairman of the Garment Manufacturers' Association of Cambodia, Van Sou Ieng,
said factories paid $800 to bring a 40-foot container from Sihanoukville to Phnom
Penh, half of which was "hidden" costs. In Vietnam it cost around a quarter
Sou Ieng, who also attended the second meeting, told the Post there was "a lot
of exchange of comments and ideas, but I'm personally not feeling so optimistic.
There were no concrete measures to encourage me to be positive."
He said another meeting should take place quickly because toll fees would be implemented
"I want to see a substantial adjustment in prices," he said.