Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap Officials Offer Tax Grace Period

In response to recent protests over hefty fines for driving unregistered vehicles, traffic officials in Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap provinces will cease handing out fines for the next four weeks in favor of a grace period during which time people must pay their vehicle registration tax, officials said.

Five hundred people on Aug 18 gathered in front of the Preah Sihanouk provincial office to pro­test against the fines imposed on drivers who lack license plates. Meas Vuthy, Chief of Preah Si­hanouk Provincial Traffic En­forcement Monitoring Com­mittee, said that he received an order from the Finance Ministry’s customs and excise department to return confiscated motorbikes to their owners and give them a month to pay the tax.

“We gave back 100 of 117 confiscated motorbikes to their owners, but we made them promise to pay the tax within the month,” Mr Vuthy said Tuesday.

Citizens who have been taxed must pay between the dates of Aug 21 and Sept 21, Mr Vuthy said, adding that other, as yet undecided, measures will have to be carried out if the people do not comply.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Traffic Police Chief Ket Sopheak confirmed that the fines on motorists with unregistered vehicles will be suspended. “We will only stop people driving without a helmet or mirrors,” he said Tues­day.

Provincial Governor Sboang Sarath said that to alleviate the burden imposed on the owners of the confiscated motorbikes, he will allow their vehicles to be returned to them.

“We will hand their motorbikes to them so they can earn money to pay the required tax,” Mr Sarath said Tuesday.

In Siem Reap on Monday, more than 1,000 tuk-tuk and moto-taxi drivers protested the high license plate fines and expensive registration fees.

Siem Reap provincial traffic police chief Thorng Sakun said that 200 of the 400 confiscated motorbikes have been returned to their owners, and the rest will soon be returned.

“We will postpone fining for unregistered plates, but will continue to fine drivers who do not have rear-view mirrors or helmets,” Mr Sakun said Tuesday.


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