The business community was poised yesterday to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen at this morning’s meeting of the Government-Private Sector Forum, calling for order among broadcast and wireless transmissions, cheaper airfares to entice tourists and the streamlining of export procedures for the agriculture sector.
Established in 1999, the biannual sessions give industry leaders an opportunity to bring issues that have been unresolved at the ministerial level before the country’s highest authority.
Bretton Sciaroni, co-chair of the forum’s working group on legislation, taxation and governance, said Mr Hun Sen sometimes uses the meeting with members of the private sector as an opportunity to make policy decisions.
“In the past [Mr Hun Sen] has used the forum as a meeting and made decisions,” Mr Sciaroni said. “But that has not necessarily been the norm. It is all up to him.”
Mr Sciaroni was quick to point out that the meeting is just one of a number of consultations between the government and private sector throughout the year and that it presents a chance to announce successes as well as call attention to areas of continued confusion.
The forum comprises ministers and business leaders who co-chair eight technical working groups on tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, banking, trade, governance and taxation, energy and industrial relations.
Mr Sciaroni said the main issue he will broach today is the overlapping radio frequencies for TV and wireless Internet service providers.
Ho Vandy, managing director of World Express Tours and Travel Co and co-chair of the working group on tourism, said he would bring up four main topics, the first among which is the necessity for lower airfares into and out of Cambodia.
Mr Vandy said he plans to call on the government to lower the price of tickets being sold by the national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, and urge the government to establish more direct flights to and from other countries in the region.
“At the moment Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is over $100 for a one-way ticket and almost $200 for a round trip,” he said, referring to prices at Cambodia Angkor Air. “It’s quite expensive for tourists and passengers.”
Mr Vandy said he would also address the need to diversify Cambodia’s tourism destinations, in particular by creating regular flights to Sihanouk International Airport, which has yet to welcome any scheduled flights.
The tourism working group will also stress the need for the creation of institutions aimed at training Cambodians for tourism industry work, and ask the government to establish the tourism marketing board to showcase Cambodia as an international destination.
Mong Reththy, chairman of the Mong Reththy Group and co-chair of the working group on Agriculture and Agro-Industry, said yesterday he would ask the prime minister to help remove existing bureaucratic hurdles to the export of rice.
“When there is more unnecessary bureaucracy involved, there are more opportunities for bribes under the table,” Mr Reththy said. “It is way too complicated.”
(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)