The Council of Ministers handed ownership rights for almost 800 stalls to vendors in a market in Prey Veng province on Friday after the lease of the private contractor who managed the market expired.
According to a letter issued by Hing Thoraxy, a secretary of state with the council, the contract between the government and businessman Prak Sung had expired at the end of 2016, with Prime Minister Hun Sen choosing to grant ownership rights over Neak Loeung Market to the vendors.
The prime minister appeared to be making good on a populist pledge made last August to nationalise all of the markets in Cambodia upon the expiration of contracts with private companies.
Commune official Chum Chea said the vendors’ ownership of the market would be indefinite. “There are no new contracts with other private businessmen because the vendors demanded [to receive ownership] for their whole life,” he said.
Vendors can now pass on ownership rights to their relatives or sell them.
Businessman Sung expressed discontent about the decision yesterday, saying he had hoped to renew the contract, under which each vendor had been required to pay him at least $10 per month. However, he said, he would comply with the directive.
Meanwhile, Vendor Sem Van, 30, welcomed the government’s decision. “The vendors thank the government. They will not worry that they can rent or sell there for only 20 years – now we can sell here for our whole life,” she said.
Neak Loeung Market had been under private management for 20 years.