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In 'De-Dollarizing' Economy, Riel Use Rising

In Cambodia's economy, where the dollar reigns supreme, more and more people are beginning to feel comfortable in the currency of the country, the riel.

Officials say this is because the economy is stronger, building public trust in the riel, in a country that saw a flurry of regimes and currency in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

A long line of people exchange money at the Ly Huor building, where dollars and riels exchange hands so quickly the workers need a money-counting machine.

Ly Huor owner Seang Lim said money exchanges are increasing and the riel exchange is more active than last year.

"Last year's money exchange and this year's saw momentum on the rise in people exchanging the riel," she said. "The people need riels more than they did last year, because now water and electricity bills are paid in riels, and monthly taxes are also paid in riels."

Finance Minister Keat Chhon told VOA Khmer that "de-dollarization" was occurring as people increasingly favor the riel.

"The taxes are in riels, the customs taxes are in riels, and other fields are paid in riels," he said. "In the past two years, the money exchange rate with the dollar against the riel has been very stable. We intervened in this, and it is also the economic law."