Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM weighs in on China debt debate

PM weighs in on China debt debate

PM weighs in on China debt debate

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks yesterday during a ground-breaking ceremony for the Cambodian-Chinese friendship bridge, which will span the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday added his two cents to the ongoing debate on what Cambodia’s debt to China actually is, declaring it stands at only US$2 billion.

At a ground-breaking ceremony marking the beginning of construction on Phnom Penh’s Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge, the premier rejected estimates he claimed unspecified opposition parties had made that the debt stood at $6 billion.

The premier’s $2 billion figure included a $500 million loan he recently secured during a 10-day visit to the burgeoning superpower.

“I met with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and had a fruitful negotiation, and I requested to the premier to help support the 2012 budget for seven projects which [total] approximately US$500 million,” he said.

“We need [to borrow] US$500 million per year from China to support a secure budget, and there is no country in the world that does not owe debt,” he added.

Last month, senior ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Cambodia owed China about $4 billion out of a total $7 billion the Kingdom owes in total foreign debt.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday he thought that figure was closer to the mark but cautioned it was unreliable because the government provides scant information about state finances.

He said instead of endlessly borrowing money from foreign countries, the government should try and eliminate widespread corruption in the collection of taxation.

“If you look at the tax collection rate as a percentage of GDP, it’s about 12 percent, and if you look at our neighbouring countries [Vietnam and Thailand], it’s about 20 percent,” he said.

“[Value Added Tax] is very high, 10 percent in Cambodia. In Thailand, it’s only 7 percent, in Vietnam, only 7 percent, but the tax collection [in Cambodia] is very low, that means corruption.”

Hun Sen also took yesterday’s media opportunity to blast comparisons made between him and deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – which have appeared as cartoons on the opposition-affiliated news blog KI-Media.

“Do not consider Hun Sen will have the same fate as Gaddafi,” he warned, after wishing a safe re-entry to the unmanned Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-8, which blasted off on November 1.



  • Former opposition leader tells soldiers, Cambodians to unite to fight CPP

    Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy has called for a popular uprising after the July 29 national elections to force a change of government. He called on the armed forces and people to stand united to fight the ruling Cambodian People’s Party-led

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Police warn boycott FB group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign”

    Police said on Tuesday that they will pick up members of a Facebook group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign” that promotes a boycott of next month’s national elections. However, police merely planned to “educate” the group for now, but warned that if the