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Cambodian People Protest Gas Price Hike

The Cambodian government is looking for measures to bring down skyrocketing gas price by trying to cut down 10% of the fuel used by the government institutions.

In Cambodia, the average price per liter is 3,500 riels ($US1=4200 riels), compared to 2,500 riels per liter in neighboring countries. Among 14 millions people, the average 40% Cambodians earn less than one dollar per day.

Speaking at the tree planting ceremony in Svay Rieng Province, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he plans to use the money saved from cutting down 10% of the gasoline used by the government institutions, to help the farmers in tilling their farms, and pumping the water for the people.

The government takes this measure at the time when the National Assembly summoned State Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Kiet Chhon, to explain the situation. He said that the government cannot stop the high price immediately.

He also said that the government will try to use the budget of more than $US 600,000,000 to help stop the rising price of gasoline. He said further that the price is high because of the tax evasion on gasoline brought inside Cambodia from neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. He added that recently the government is able to crack down on 1,500,000 litres of gasoline which were not taxed.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party member of parliament, Mr. Son Chhay, said that gasoline in Cambodia is more expensive than in the neighboring countries. He criticizes the government for the price hike.

The opposition lawmaker said the Ministry of Economy and Finance has no will to help the poor people of Cambodia, and that it only adopts policies that hurt the people. He said that the meeting between Mr. Kiet Chhon and the members of parliament at the National Assembly will not result in anything today. Mr. Son Chhay said that he would like for the government to understand the means that will benefit the people.

An official from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications who speaks on condition of anonymity, said that he does not support the government's action, because the price cut in government institutions might apply only to low level institutions and not higher ones.