Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun instructed the district governors to stop collecting taxes from all vendors selling goods from baskets – as opposed to fixed market stalls or shops – in marketplaces in the province in order to improve their living standards and reduce poverty in the province.
The order came following an incident in which a security guard at the Preah Sihanouk business centre tried to overcharge a vendor for taxes and then destroyed goods belonging to her on March 20.
“The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration request that the [town and district governors] instruct the market directors and market managers in their jurisdictions to stop collecting taxes and other service charges from people selling goods from baskets and to find suitable places for them [to sell their wares],” he said.
Chamroeun also stated that the markets must strengthen revenues by collecting full taxes and rental fees on stalls, booths and shops at the regular prices and to instruct the market chiefs to use one tariff price for all sellers in their markets.
Preah Sihanouk provincial hall spokesman Kheang Phearum confirmed on March 22 that after receiving information about a Preah Sihanouk business centre incident the provincial governor chaired an emergency meeting with various concerned parties.
He added that at the meeting they had decided to stop collecting taxes on all people selling products in baskets – who are generally less prosperous than those who sell from fixed market stalls or shops – and he advised the director of the business centre to fire the security guard in question, which he agreed to do.
According to Phearum, the manager of the Preah Sihanouk business centre allowed the security guard and vendor to reconcile the issue between them without any further legal complaint.
“However, the governor decided to impose administrative penalties and instructed the director of the business centre to terminate the man from his position as tax collector and security guard,” he added.
Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Cheap Sotheary applauded the actions taken by the provincial governor.
“But the authorities need to disseminate information in the markets directly to the public about his orders to stop collecting these taxes,” she suggested.