Government Centralizes Fishing Lot Fee Collection

The government approved a new sub-decree last week that lays out new procedures on investment, public bidding and fees for the rental of the country’s river and lake fishing lots, a government official said on Monday.

According to a statement released by the Council of Ministers on Friday, the new directive will mean rental fees for fishing lots will no longer go to the provincial authorities but straight to central government coffers in Phnom Penh.

“This sub-decree aims to guarantee the transparency of investment, bidding and rental of fishing lots [for tax revenue] collected inside the national budget, and ensure the management of doing business and the sustainable development of the fishing resources,” the Council said in its statement.

Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok said the legislation was an update to the 1989 regulation on managing fishing lots and will move more responsibility to the administration, which previously collected a 40 percent share of the fee on fishing lots.

“The 1989 regulation shared 40 percent of the [fishing lot] fee with the provincial authorities, but the new regulation has it go directly to the government,” he said.

Mr Thuok said there are now 162 fishing lots around the country varying in area from three to 10 square-kilometers of lakes and rivers. In 2000, there were more than 200, he added.

Minh Bunly, Tonle Sap program coordinator for the NGO Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said many of the fishing lots had not changed hands in years, and that in some cases the well-established companies were going beyond their lots and into local community fishing areas.

“If [fishing lot renters and bidders] are obeying this regulation, they will bring more interest to villagers, boost the national economy and sustainable fishing,” he said of the regulations.

Chhuo Nguon, the owner of a fishing lot in Pursat province, said that he had to bid for his fishing lot once every four years, an area of about 1,000 hectares in size. Mr Nguon declined to say how much the lot cost.

Mr Thuok said that the cost of lots depend on the potential fish catches in each lot, which can range in price anywhere from 50 million riel (approximately $12,500) up to 500 million riel. The fees are paid annually, he said, adding that the government collects between $1.62 million and $1.7 million in revenue each year from the lots

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