T HE controversial $1.3 billion Ariston deal to develop a casino and
infrastructure in Sihanoukville has caused barely a ripple in the southern
Governor Thoan Bun Sron has been told practically nothing about
He had only heard in passing that Ariston was refurbishing the casino ship
Heritage that will be operating in Phnom Penh.
"Is that true?" he asked.
"They have been allowed to bring a ship into Phnom Penh... what happened to
"The primary aims of the deal is for here
(Sihanoukville), not there ( in Phnom Penh ),"Bun Sron said.
province is waiting for the first dollar to be invested there.
understand the big investors waiting to see who is coming here first, to see
maybe if anyone gets burned or not," he said.
However, Bun Sron said that should Ariston "spend $100 million
straightway...that will create a big spin-of."
Any expenditure in
electricity supply, sewage, roading, "anything, we are just waiting who will be
first to come. We know some (companies) want to come... they are just not sure,"
Since the Ariston deal was singed three company representatives
had visited on a courtesy call. "Hopefully they will be coming back soon to
start something serious."
"I don't know if Ariston is required (under
the deal) to have time limits or deadlines, I just don't know."
Meanwhile, But Sron said he had been told that three Cambodian
province-Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh muncipality and Siem Reap-would soon be
allowed to collect their own revenue from local taxes.
"We get no help
from Phnom Penh. We have asked but they are unable to provide us with material
assistance," he said.
Currently, all local revenue goes to central
government coffers. Provinces submit development proposals for financial
"This has caused a lot of delays and difficulties," he said
He said that even projects as small as repairing a one kilometer stretch
of local road had to be costed and approved from Phnom Penh.
has to be changed. I'm told the government is looking to change it this year,"
he said, referring to the above three areas.