In Cambodia, the End of COVID-19 Will Heighten the Economic Contradictions

Once lockdowns end and our lives return to something approaching normalcy, capital will stage a demonstration of its power over labor. In Cambodia, this campaign is already underway with NagaCorp, the billion-dollar company that has enjoyed a state-sanctioned monopoly on casino operations in Phnom Penh for decades, in the vanguard of capital.

On top of that advantage, its coffers have grown handsomely thanks to the Cambodian government’s preference until very recently for not properly taxing profitable businesses, but instead collecting donations from tycoons through which the ruling party can spend on “philanthropic” projects to burnish its own image. In 2019, NagaCorp turned a net profit of $521.3 million. That was after paying a paltry tax bill of just $30.4 million. Despite being closed for much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned $102 million in net profit last year. Things must be going well, as the firm has committed upward of $4 billion to building a third casino-hotel complex in Phnom Penh.

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