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Inflation fuels protest over petrol prices

Inflation fuels protest over petrol prices

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People in the back of a truck shout and hold up signs during a protest in Phnom Penh yesterday during which the protesters appealed to the government to stop the rise in the price of gasoline.

More than 200 factory workers gathered at Freedom Park near Wat Phnom yesterday to urge the government to cut taxes on petrol, saying fuel prices were driving food prices beyond what they could afford.

But the government is doing all it can to curb inflation and has no control over oil prices, a government spokesman said.

Sath Chheanghour, president of the Cambodian National Confederation of Labourers’ Protection, said workers and motorcycle taxi drivers were being hard hit by inflation and were struggling to feed themselves and their families.

He called on the government to halve its import tax on petrol from 1,000 riel (US$0.24) to 500 riel a litre.

Garment worker Yong Saphin said she spent half of her $61 monthly income on rent and food, and called for the government to take measures to reduce inflation.

Tuk-tuk driver Pheng Pros said almost all of the 30,000 to 40,000 riel he earned a day went to renting his vehicle, petrol and food.

“Now, I’m living hand to mouth,” he said.

Keo Remy, chief of spokesmen of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said the government was carefully monitoring  inflation.

“The government was fighting inflation by ensuring political and macroeconomic stability, but rising petrol prices came from oil-producing countries,” he said.

Oil prices remain over $85 a barrel despite a steep drop last week. Oil for September delivery rose 25 cents to settle at $86.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday after prices tumbled 9.2 percent last week, the biggest drop since the week ended on May 6.

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