Archive for January, 2009

Cambodian central bank to slash reserve requirement

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — The National Bank of Cambodia will cut the bank reserve requirement from 16 percent to 12 percent and eliminate restrictions on real estate lending effective on Feb. 1, national media said on Monday.

This constituted a reversal of the bank’s monetary tightening measures brought in last year to cut inflation and rein in soaring property values, said English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post.

Officials said that they hoped the looser rules would stimulate lending amid a worsening economic crisis.

“We increased the reserve rate (from 8 percent to 16 percent in May 2008) because we were vigilant over the crisis and wanted to prevent the inflation. Now inflation is falling, so we lowered it to give banks easy cash to provide more loans to their customers,” said Tal Nay Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia.

Inflation rocketed to 25.1 percent in the first half of 2008 in Cambodia and dropped to 13.46 percent in December, according to the National Institute of Statistics of the Planning Ministry.

Experts and bank industrialists have repeatedly called on the government to lower the reserve rate so that financial institutions could loan more money and fuel the economy in the grips of a financial slowdown.

The Cambodian economy enjoyed double-digit increase during the 2005-2007 period, but down to below 10 percent in 2008 and will further slide to around 5 percent in 2009, according to the forecasts by experts and international financial institutions.

January 26, 2009 at 10:01 am 1 comment

Cambodia to build new port in Phnom Penh

Seatradeasia-online, UK – Jan 18, 2009

Bangkok: Cambodia’s government has announced a plan to build a new port in capital city Phnom Penh by the end of this year or in early 2010 to meet the increasing demand for waterway transportation.

The project, estimated at $25 million, was approved by the government in October 2008 and feasibility work is underway, said Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance.

The port will be located south of the city in the lower Mekong River area and not far away from the current Phnom Penh port.

The new facility will have a capacity of 300,000 containers a day, which is six times larger than the current Phnom Penh port, Minister Keat Chhon added.

January 20, 2009 at 2:39 am 2 comments

Cambodia to Finish Bourse Listing Details by April (Update1)

By Daniel Ten Kate

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — Cambodia, the second-poorest country in Southeast Asia, plans to complete the listing requirements for its first stock exchange by April in preparation for a December opening, a top exchange official said today.

“Everything is on schedule so far,” Ming Bankosal, director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, said by phone from Phnom Penh. “We will finalize the issuing requirements by the end of the first quarter, and after that we’ll accept applications from companies.”

Cambodia, which abolished money under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago, is seeking to lure foreign funds as the global economic recession has led to drops in tourism, garment exports and commodity prices. The International Monetary Fund said the economy may grow 4.75 percent this year, which would be the slowest since 1998.

The government has targeted 20 companies to sell shares during the exchange’s first year of operation. They include Sokimex Group, the country’s biggest petroleum company, and Acleda Bank Plc, its largest bank, Kao Thach, head of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s financial market division, said last year.

Regulations

“The starting date is not really the key issue,” said Douglas Clayton, chief executive officer of Leopard Capital, one of several private equity firms that plans to invest in companies and cash out through share sales in the local market. “I won’t mind if it’s delayed for another year because it might give them more time to get the regulations in order.”

Leopard Capital has raised about a quarter of the $100 million it’s targeting for a fund that closes at the end of March. Opportunities are rife for those with cash on hand who can benefit from falling prices, Clayton said.

The global financial crisis, which cut the value of stock markets in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam by at least half last year, has not deterred Cambodia from pressing forward with a stock exchange, Ming said. The SECC is in the process of developing tax breaks and other incentives for companies to list, he added.

“Now the U.S. is in the process of recovery and this recovery can spread to the world,” Ming said. “We hope that in late 2009, everything will be okay.”

The listing requirements in Cambodia will likely be modeled on the Kosdaq, South Korea’s second stock market that was set up 12 years ago for small- and medium-sized firms as well as venture start-ups, according to Kao Thach. Companies seeking a Kosdaq listing need to be in business for at least three years with minimum paid-in capital of 500 million won ($495,417) and debt-to-equity ratio of less than 150 percent of the industry mean.

January 20, 2009 at 2:34 am Leave a comment

U.S. to donate $600,000 in military aid for Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — The United States plans to donate more than 600,000 U.S. dollars in “non-lethal” military aid to Cambodia in 2009, national media on Tuesday quoted U.S. Embassy spokesman as saying.

    The United States expects to give 635,000 U.S. dollars in aid toward countering transnational criminal activities, including anti-drug trafficking and demining programs, John Johnson told English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily.

    The aid encompasses an estimated 575,000 U.S. dollars in Foreign Military Funding, which is used to buy vehicles, protective gear as well as medical and communication equipment, and about 60,000 U.S. dollars in International Military Education and Training Funding, which is primarily for English-language education, he added.

    The U.S. suspended military aid for Cambodia at the end of last century and lifted the restriction two years ago.

    In 2008, it donated 1.5 million U.S. dollars in peacekeeper training, 1 million U.S. dollars in demining assistance, and nearly 3 million U.S. dollars in other humanitarian programs in the kingdom, according to the embassy.

 
Editor: Deng Shasha

January 14, 2009 at 9:44 am 4 comments

Cambodian PM makes first Middle East visit

January 13, 2009

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has departed for oil-rich Kuwait in his first-ever visit to the Middle East, aimed at expanding business and trade ties.

Hun Sen was accompanied by a number of high-ranking government officials and business people as he left on the four-day trip on a plane provided by Kuwait.

“This visit will lead to the development in the future between Cambodia and Kuwait, and between Cambodia and other countries in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters.

During the visit, officials are scheduled to sign agreements on Kuwaiti technical aid to build a hydro-power plant, irrigation systems and roads in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation, the minister said.

Officials will also agree to direct flights between the two nations to boost tourism, he said. Hor Namhong, who is accompanying Hun Sen, said the premier would also hold discussions about rice, trade exchange and investments.

Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah visited Cambodia and inked trade deals last August, while Phnom Penh is also looking into land-lease agreements with Kuwait.

Kuwait granted Cambodia a 546-million-dollar agricultural loan in August in return for crop production. Impoverished Cambodia has climbed back from decades of civil unrest to emerge as one of the region’s most vibrant economies, attracting increasing foreign investment.

Cambodian officials have also said they hope Middle East governments will help train local experts on the petroleum industry, which is starting to take root after the discovery of offshore deposits.

January 14, 2009 at 9:41 am Leave a comment

Official denies delay of opening Cambodian stock market

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — A Cambodian official denied media reports that the opening of stock exchange market has been delayed indefinitely due to the worsening global economic slowdown, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said Tuesday.

“We didn’t declare postponement of the stock exchange. I am sure it will open in 2009,” Mey Vann, director of the Department of Finance Industry of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, was quoted as saying.

“We are working on it and there is no delay,” he said, but decline to discuss the exact date.

On Monday, another English-language daily The Phnom Penh Post quoted Mey Vann as saying that “Cambodia has been affected by the global financial crisis, especially in terms of real estate and garment exports. Therefore, the plan to open our own stock market has been postponed, and no specific schedule is set for it.”

The launch of the stock exchange market was originally scheduled for last September, with the South Korean Exchange providing funds and technical support.

As Cambodia’s economy, one of the region’s most vibrant, slowed to single-digit growth last year, the exchange’s future was put in doubt, said The Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia enjoyed consistent double-digit economic growth rate from 2005 to 2007, which fueled the government’s ambition to upgrade its financial and capital market, and the establishment of a stock exchange market was just one of its major plans in this regard.

 
Editor: Lu Yanan

January 13, 2009 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

Four arrested in Cambodian bomb plot

PHNOM PENH (AFP —  Jan 9.) — Cambodian authorities have arrested four men on suspicion of planting three bombs around the capital last week, a senior police officer said Saturday.

Deputy national police commissioner Sok Phal told reporters that one of the four alleged plotters was 44-year-old Som Ek, a dual Cambodian-Thai national who had previously worked as a Cambodian military policeman.

“He (Som Ek) told the police that his bomb plot was to bring attention to the group inside and outside the country, so he could extort money,” Sok Phal said.

“This is just some kind of business just to rob or extort money,” he added.

He said Som Ek had been arrested on Wednesday and told authorities that his group was backed by people outside Cambodia.

The deputy police commissioner gave no further details on the alleged group or other three suspects.

No one was harmed in the bomb plot in which police found three explosive devices on January 2 planted near the Ministry of National Defence and a television station.

Mine clearance personnel destroyed the bombs later that day.

January 12, 2009 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

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