IMF, Resort Owner Dispute Contract Renewal

Sokimex and Sokha Hotels and Resorts President Sok Kong de­fended his renewed contract to col­lect ticket fees at Angkor on Tuesday, adding that he had been under the impression that the July renewal deal enjoyed the sup­port of the International Mon­e­tary Fund.

Sok Kong stated on Aug 17 that the decision to renew the con­tract—which took place without public bidding—was supported by the IMF, a claim the IMF quick­ly contradicted.

“I thought that the reason the [Council for the Development of Cambodia] approved my company was on the advice of the IMF,” Sok Kong said.

Sok Kong said that the new contract, which runs until 2010, generates more revenue for the gov­ernment than the previous one.

“We make less profit,” he said.

Under the new contract, the Ap­sara Authority, which manages Angkor, receives 15 percent of the total ticket revenue.

Eighty percent of what remains goes to the government and 20 percent goes to Sokha Hotels and Resorts. Sokha must also give $1 million annually to upgrade the park.

Following the renewal of Sok­ha’s contract, IMF Represen­tative Robert Hagemann said in a letter in August that the IMF did not support the process by which the new contract was awarded.

“The IMF has repeatedly urged the Royal Government of Cam­bo­dia to use competitive bidding in granting or extending any concession agreement,” Hage­mann wrote.

“Since the extension of the contract was not competitively bid, it is not possible to know if the government could have or would have obtained a yet better deal,” he said at the time.

On Tuesday, Hagemann said he has had no discussion about the Angkor ticket concession with the government since the letter.

A government official involved in the Sokha deal said that the deal was fairly done, without bias in favor of Sokha.

“As an independent state, the government can make decisions without the IMF or World Bank’s influence,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

 

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