Airport Operator Says Gov’t To Raise Tax on Plane Tickets

The government could begin to collect more taxes on airline tickets once a new government forms, officials from Societe Concessionnaire de l’Aeroport, ma­jority owner of both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh international airports, said Monday.

The government plans to apply a 10 percent value added tax to air­line fees on international flights, said Joel Velasque, SCA chair­man. It also plans to implement a new safety tax on all flights, he said.

“Though the government may be different, the Finance Ministry administration will remain the same,” Velasque told reporters. “They are not on the way to chang­ing their minds.”

SCA is ready and willing to collect the taxes, Velasque said. The schedule and percentage of the safety tax have not been set.

The government has wanted to implement the value added tax to airline tickets since last year, but delayed after the outbreak of se­vere acute respiratory syndrome and the US-led war in Iraq battered the tourism industry, a sen­ior Finance Ministry official said Monday.

“Sometimes we can implement the tax law on time, but it de­pends on the economy,” he said. “It may be some time before the economy grows enough to implement the tax.”

But Khek Norinda, an SCA official, said plans for implementing both taxes will be devised when a new government is formed.

“Then the airport tax will in­crease,” he said.

The government is strapped for cash after compiling a $55 million deficit for the year. Last week, a doc­ument surfaced pro­posing a new tax on Okhnas—an es­teemed title bestowed upon those who give more than $100,000 to the nation. The government eventually ve­toed the proposal.

About $12 million of the deficit has yet to be financed, economist Sok Hach said recently.

Airlines contacted Monday had not heard of the plan to collect more airline taxes.

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