Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cambodia advances 15 places in Doing Business 2009 rankings

By Puy Kea
PHNOM PENH , Sept. 10 KYODO -- Cambodia moved up 15 places to 135th in the ranking of the ease of doing business around the world, according to a report released Wednesday by International Finance Corporation and the World Bank. Cambodia 's significantly higher standing is the result of reforms that make it easier for businesses to get credit and to close a business. ''These are very encouraging results,'' said Stephane Guimbert, senior country economist for the World Bank in Cambodia .
''These positive results show important reforms are being introduced leading to substantial improvement in Cambodia 's ranking this year,'' he said. ''These results are consistent with the survey of 500 firms that we are just completing to assess the investment climate in Cambodia .'' The IFC-World Bank report, Doing Business 2009, which compares 181 economies, uses 10 indicators of business regulation such as starting a business, dealing with construction permits, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and closing a business.
The rankings are derived from reviews of laws and regulations, and in-depth interviews with business service providers such as accountants and lawyers. Doing Business surveys, however, do not assess such areas as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates. Cambodia 's showing this year is a result of two reforms. The first is passage of the Law on Secured Transactions in 2007 that makes it possible for a business to use its moveable and intangible assets as security for a loan, and the second reform was the passage of the Law on Bankruptcy.
''Enabling banks to accept moveable assets as collateral is a major improvement in access to finance in Cambodia ,'' said Trang Nguyen, IFC's head of Advisory Services for the Mekong Region. She added a successful small and medium enterprise that has valuable moveable assets but lacks land and buildings to use as collateral can now get financing needed to improve its business.
''This, in turn, should enable SMEs, which represent over 99 percent of Cambodia 's firms and 45 percent of employment, to expand, create more jobs, and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction,'' she said. Creating jobs is especially important given the nearly 250,000 young people who are reaching working age and joining the labor market every year, she added. The statement said Cambodia has also improved indicators on trading across borders by reducing the time required to export from 37 to 22 days and import times from 46 to 30 days.
KyodoSeptember 10, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Cambodian transgender lodges complaint with Khmer Rouge court


A Cambodian transgender woman on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal alleging she was a victim of gender-based crimes during the country's Khmer Rouge regime.

Sou Sotheavy, 68, said at a press conference that she was persecuted for being a transgender and was raped by Khmer Rouge officials and soldiers during the 1975-1979 regime. Sotheavy said she was punished for having committed ''moral offences'' and for behaving as a woman and placed several times in re-education camps as well as in prisons.

''I was raped by Khmer Rouge prison chiefs and other soldiers and forced into an arranged marriage with a woman whom I had only 10 days with,'' she said. Her lawyer, Silke Stuzinsky, said the application of Sotheavy's complaint was submitted to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Wednesday and hoped that her client's case will be processed by the court. Sou Sotheavy is now the director of a local nongovernmental organization, CNMWD, which fights for the rights of sex workers and sexual minorities.

Sou Sotheavy's action is the first complaint before the ECCC concerning sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge regime. In her complaint, she said she is not seeking compensation but to tell her story to the world on how sexual violence was committed during the Khmer Rouge era. ''I am representing many transgenders who suffered like me during the period, but most of them were already killed or died,'' she said.

The ECCC said that, to date, investigations into sexual violence have not been included for the reason that there is a lack of sufficient evidence. But Sotheavy's complaint will be a step that would encourage other victims of such crimes to come forward and demand acknowledgment and justice for their suffering, which has largely been ignored until now.

''I hope my case will help more victims of sexual violence to speak out and can also help transgenders, other sexual minorities and sex workers in other countries to speak out for their rights and to have serious crimes committed against us recognized by international courts,'' she said. The ECCC was established to bring former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and those responsible for crimes committed in late 1970s.

KyodoSeptember 03, 2008

Cambodia's population grows 8.5% in 10 years to top 13 million

Cambodia 's population has increased by nearly 2 million over the past decade to reach 13.4 million, according to the government's provisional census data released Wednesday. 

The census data, collected in March, put the population at 13,388,910, for an increase of 1.95 million or 8.54 percent since 1998 when the country had 11,437,656 people. Cambodia 's first census, which was held in 1962, had put the population then at 5.7 million. The next census was not until 36 years later. 

The country's annual population growth rate during the last decade averaged 1.54 percent, higher than the average growth rate of 1.3 percent for Southeast Asia as a whole. Population density during the same period increased from 64 to 75 people per square kilometer, significantly lower than the current average of 126 for Southeast Asia as a whole.
KyodoSeptember 03, 2008