A senior official at the Council of Ministers warned owners of right-hand drive vehicles that they must change their vehicles over to left-hand drive by June, 2022, or risk having them seized and destroyed. He also noted that beginning in 2021 all privately owned vehicles with state license plates must pay taxes.
The minister’s council’s permanent secretary of state Hing Thoraxy sent a letter on September 2 requesting that Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth implement measures regarding private vehicles that are using the license plates of the ministries, state institutions, military police and police.
“The general department of taxation shall prepare a detailed list of private vehicles with license plate numbers of the state, military police and police identifying the vehicle owners to the general department of customs and excise of Cambodia to take further action on taxes and import duties,” the letter read.
“Import tax and import duties on existing right-hand drive vehicles must be paid one last time, but the right-hand drive vehicles must be modified to comply with Cambodia’s road traffic laws. This permit is valid until the end of June 2022 and then all of the unmodified right-hand drive vehicles will be seized to be dismantled or destroyed,” the letter stated.
Thoraxy wrote that all ministries and institutions must strictly enforce laws and policies prohibiting the import and use of right-hand drive vehicles, except for the few exceptions made by the government such as fire trucks and garbage trucks.
“Anyone found to be involved with importing right-hand drive vehicles shall be punished according to the law in force,” the letter said.
The office of the Council of Ministers also warned that owners of private vehicles that are not registered as state property using state license plates, military police and police plates must pay annual taxes on means of transportation and import duties in accordance with the law and customs regulations.
Kim Panha, the director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, said he supported the ban on the import of right-hand drive vehicles, saying that they were already illegal to drive under current laws.
Panha explained that it is too dangerous to pass other vehicles in a right-hand drive vehicle for both the vehicle owner and everyone else on the road.
“In 2015 or 2016 it wasn’t a requirement to change to left-hand drive and they were issued red number plates instead. Now, they are banned for importation but there are still some of these vehicles slipping in,” he said.
Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said he supports tax collection on private vehicles using state plates.
“The government’s plan to make private vehicle owners pay taxes is the right thing to do. I think it is an appropriate decision and in line with the law on the management of public property, so owners of private vehicles should pay taxes the same as everyone else equally like ordinary people,” he said.