Chamber of Commerce Plans for Stock Exchange

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.



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