Panel To Assess Impact of Border Closure

Officials in Banteay Meanchey province have formed a committee to assess the economic im­pact of the Thai border closure, ask­ing Cambodian business people to register the extent of their investments in Thailand, officials said Thursday.

Provincial and interior ministry officials estimate that Cambo­dians have invested some $20 million in Thai border areas near Ban­teay Meanchey and up to 1,900 stalls in the Long Ker Mar­ket on the Thai side of the border were owned by Cambodians, said First Deputy Governor An Sum.

Cambodian business people and traders have been asked to register with the committee in order to set a precise figure for the level of Cambodian trade and investment, An Sum said.

“We would like to know how much those business people invested…so we can help them out,” An Sum said.

Pointing to the recent fire in the Long Ker Market, An Sum said if such incidents happen again, the committee will be able to seek compensation from the Thai government on behalf of Cambodian businesses.

Though resolve remains high in Phnom Penh to keep the border closed, An Sum said around 5,000 families in O’Chrou district need food.

An Sum’s claims countered other Banteay Meanchey officials who said earlier this week that the border closure has not caused food shortages in Poipet.

But Sok Savann, Sam Rainsy Party commune chief for Poipet, also called on Thursday for Prime Minister Hun Sen to send emergency food assistance or reopen the Thai border.

Sok Savann said several hundred people have approached his commune office seeking food, yet so far only 5 kg of rice has been dis­tributed to 600 people, and officials have run out of food and money.

“About 12,000 families, or 60 percent of the total population, are facing an increasingly serious food shortage. Several hundred families are literally starving,” Sok Savann said in the blunt letter to Hun Sen.

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