Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday ordered the Finance Ministry and municipal authorities in Phnom Penh to cease collecting fees from market and street vendors in the capital.
The measure brings an end to the fees introduced in January, which provoked protests from several hundred vendors last week.
According to a Friday statement from the Council of Ministers, Mr Hun Sen ordered the ministry and the municipality to reexamine the instructions given to business license holders who were obliged to pay 200 riel a day, or about $1.50 a month, in fees collected by the Roth Sen Sopheap Company.
The company had been collecting the government fees since Jan 1 but according to the statement the prime minister decided the company could now only collect public taxes from parking and toilet facilities in the capital.
“Stop authorizing [Roth Sen Sopheap] Company’s actions of collecting public order fees from both indoor and outdoor market vending in Phnom Penh, except for the fees on toilets and parking,” the statement said.
The decision follows complaints by several hundred vendors from O’Russei Market in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district, who had staged a protest in front of Mr Hun Sen’s residence in the capital last Monday.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the prime minister had told officials to either solve the problem soon or eliminate the company’s contract.
“If there’s any more problems related to [the business licenses] book, he ordered to erase it,” he added.
Roth Sopheap, the owner of Roth Sen Sopheap Company, could not be reached yesterday. Last week Ms Sopheap said that in November her company had been granted the right to collect fees from market and street vendors and would deliver around $40,000 annually to the government.
Khem Savuth, a 32-year-old goldsmith at O’Russei Market, said the vendors welcomed the prime minister’s response to their protest.
“We were really happy and excited after we heard the information. We appreciate the decision,” he said, adding vendors planned to collect donations for the Cambodian Red Cross and for the soldiers stationed at Preah Vihear temple in order to show their gratitude for the measure.