Subscribe Search

Search form

Sign tax angers business owners

Sign tax angers business owners


Private company's collection of signage fee in Siem Reap seen as arbitrary and unfair

Photo by:

Kyle Sherer

Yin Sam, owner of the Khemasak Nokor Printing Shop.

SIEM Reap business owners are riled about a controversial new sign tax, and their protests have forced the provincial government to hold emergency meetings to rethink the issue.

Many businesses refused to pay the private company contracted by the provincial governor's office to collect the new charges, which come on top of a sign tax all Siem Reap businesses already pay when they renew their business licences. One Wat Bo businessman dismantled his large office sign rather than pay the fee, he said.

Businesses saw the new sign tax as a form of double-dipping and objected to a private company, Modern Printing Design (MPD), being contracted to police the measure.

MPD representatives also acted thuggishly in their collection of fees, and at first furnished no identification, just figures written on scraps of paper, and demanded instant payment, businesses say.

Residents first became aware of the tax in mid-November 2008, when MPD staff began measuring signs and demanding payment, telling some businesses that the fee was calculated at US$20 per square metre of signage.

Following outraged complaints, MPD staff acquired some legitimate paperwork, including staff identity cards, business cards and professional invoices.

Petition circulated

The Post contacted the provincial government office and was informed that MPD was acting on its behalf.

In early December, a petition was circulated in opposition to  the tax, and on December 18 Rasmey Kampuchea published advice from the Siem Reap government office that referred to a "second letter" issued by the office authorising MPD to collect the taxes.

In the same article, a government tax office employee said the business sign tax was not related to the tax office, and requested that the letter be rescinded.

By mid-January, the petition against this tax had grown to over 300 signatures, and now business owners claim their actions have forced the government to consider a drastic softening of the levy. But MPD staff are reportedly continuing to collect payment despite the provincial government's promise to suspend the fees.

Yin Sam, owner of the Khemasak Nokor Printing Shop, claims the sign tax has caused him to lose about 40 percent of his clients.  "It has really affected my business. In many cases, the tax that the MPD charged is almost the same as the cost of printing the sign, doubling the cost for business owners."


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said