Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the government Wednesday to make a greater effort to promote foreign investment, issuing orders to accelerate customs and duty services and reduce industrial electric rates, among other things.
“Hun Sen told all ministers at the meeting that they should pay more attention to investors in Cambodia and do whatever is necessary to attract more direct foreign investment,” Sok Chenda, secretary-general for the Council for the Development of Cambodia, said.
During the five-hour board meeting, each ministry made a report on what they could do in order to encourage foreign investment. In response, Hun Sen developed priorities.
“[The prime minister] said ‘We need things done quickly. Whenever the market needs our products, we must immediately deliver them to our clients,’” Sok Chenda said.
The prime minister also ordered the officials to process import and export paperwork faster and more smoothly so customers can receive goods on time.
Government officials also pointed out that Cambodia’s electricity rates are much higher than in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, Sok Chenda reported after the meeting.
In response, Hun Sen ordered the Ministry of Industry and Energy to consider a special discount for bulk users such as manufacturers, the secretary-general reported.
Experts have said one of the major stumbling blocks for attracting investment to Cambodia is unclear land issues.
“We want investors to build factories in our country, but now we have not enough information on land available for investment,” Sok Chenda said.
Hun Sen ordered the CDC to become the information center for land available for investment in agriculture, services and manufacturing, by collecting information from ministries as well as local authorities.
Hun Sen also is planning to meet with foreign investors already in Cambodia on Dec 21 to get their ideas on how the government can improve the country’s investment climate.
The government also decided Wednesday to seek more opportunities to use BOT, or the build-operate-transfer scheme, to develop the country’s transportation network, Sok Chenda said.
Almost all national road and port rehabilitations are done with funds from international donors. The secretary-general said the dilapidated Koh Kong Airport is especially in need of private investment, citing it could boost Cambodia’s tourist industry because it is close to Thailand and has lots of potential attractions for tourists.
According to the CDC, 80 proposed investment projects have been approved by the Cambodian Investment Board of the CDC so far this year, totaling capital investments of $434 million. The figures are down dramatically from last year, when 143 projects worth $855 million were approved.
Officials predicted investment in Cambodia will increase next year.
“The inflow of foreign direct investment is increasing in Asean countries. Cambodia, Laos, [Burma] and Vietnam will be beneficiaries,” Sok Chenda said. “The investment climate for Cambodia is promising.”