Acting on direct orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong on Tuesday called on municipal officials to strictly monitor the companies that collect daily fees from the city’s market vendors.
Mr. Hun Sen called out the governor in a speech on Monday, complaining that vendors blamed him for the fact that collectors asked for the fee each morning rather than in the afternoon when vendors had had time to earn it.
Mr. Socheatvong immediately sprang into action Tuesday. He told the officials that the collection companies, mostly privately-owned, were also overcharging vendors.
“If any companies charge more than permitted [by the Ministry of Finance], their contracts must be canceled,” he said.
“I am not scared of replacing the companies because if we continue ignoring this issue then our people will suffer even more,” he said.
Market managers, he said, had to investigate the allegations initially made by Hun Sen. In addition, City Hall officials had to start investigating the markets and, if necessary, would file lawsuits against non-compliant companies.
On Tuesday afternoon, Keang Leak, manager of O’Russey market in Prampi Makara district, said he had already started to investigate the private company managing rent and parking fees at his market.
One motorcycle-taxi driver, Mr. Leak said, was charged $0.25 riel to park in front of the market, while the legal fee is only $0.13.
The subcontractor who had overcharged the driver by 500 riel, or about $0.13, had already been fined 420,000 riel, or about $105, for violating the Finance Ministry’s regulations, he added.
“The collecting of the [vendor] fee is an inflammatory issue,” Mr. Leak said, noting that vendors could pay extra if they were satisfied with the services provided by the company, but should not be forced to. He said the additional charges for daily services such as trash collection differed depending on the size of each vendor’s store.
Separately, Mr. Socheatvong on Tuesday also spoke about the creation of three new districts—Chroy Changva, Chbar Ampov and Prek Pnov—for which almost 100 officials from authorities other than City Hall have applied as governors and deputies.
“But I will not agree to them because I want former municipal officials, not outsiders,” he said.