Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun has called on provincial and town police to stop the unwarranted inspections of businesses run by foreigners, especially Chinese nationals.
Chamroeun was speaking at a provincial administration meeting last week that discussed encouraging further foreign investment in legitimate businesses in the province.
“I would like the police to cease the inspections, especially those of businesses belonging to foreign investors because we cannot judge people. They are also having difficulties conducting their businesses, only to see the police and provincial authorities show up.
“I ask all relevant units and institutions to suspend inspections so honest businesses will not be affected. But we must remain firm in investigating and cracking down on wrongdoers. Otherwise, [honest investors] will be affected,” he said.
Chamroeun said provincial officials had carried out inspections on businesses run by foreign nationals to find irregularities and make them pay fines. He ordered the suspension of such activities, with necessary inspections to be approved by the provincial administration.
Provincial hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said on Monday that the governor’s remarks were not a criticism of provincial officials but rather intended to help law-abiding investors.
“We didn’t find fault with [officials] at the meeting. We encouraged officials to do what they can to stop procedures from affecting investors, whether foreign or Cambodian.
“When starting a business, people invest money in our province, so we have to allow for their smooth running,” he said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Cheap Sotheary said business was quieter for Chinese nationals in Preah Sihanouk province after a large number of their compatriots returned home.
“Some Chinese nationals have come to conduct business legally in Preah Sihanouk province. They are also encountering difficulties as rents increase.
“Property in the province has become expensive, and they have to pay business fees while the police demand money from them. With the province quieter than before, it makes it more difficult for them to conduct business,” Sotheary said.