The Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce this week revisited plans to open a Cambodian stock exchange by 2007, though officials noted that several hurdles remain.
The National Assembly must ratify at least six or seven laws, including a commercial law and bankruptcy law, before plans for a stock exchange can proceed, said Bankosal Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Finance’s Financial Industry Department.
“At this time, we seem to see that a stock exchange is impossible, but we are working on it,” he said Friday, adding that Finance Minister Keat Chhon discussed the plans for an exchange during a meeting at the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
“We have to try hard to do it,” Bankosal Ming said.
Three years ago, government economists had announced that they aimed to create a functioning stock market by this year, in order to raise capital in the domestic market instead of relying heavily on foreign aid.
On Friday, Sok Kong, president of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce and head of the Sokimex petroleum company, said he was skeptical the government would be able to pull through with its plans by 2007.
“I think it is still not ready to go ahead with a stock exchange,” he said. “We are not so sure with laws, courts and banking policy.”
Sok Kong worried that if a stock exchange is developed in a poor business environment with weak laws, it could be used to launder money.
“I’m afraid if there is a cheating case, who will be responsible?” he said. “For my [Sokimex Company], I will wait and see until the government can show reliable laws and court reform before making a decision to list on a stock market.”
Bankosal Ming, however, said that the proposed stock market will initially list only state-run enterprises, such as Electricite du Cambodge and the Sihanoukville port.
He also dismissed fears of shady business practices, saying that measures would be put in place to ensure the proposed stock exchange is not abused.
“Everything has to be transparent,” he said.