Over 300 vendors from O’Russei Market in central Phnom Penh petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday to intervene to reduce their stall prices amid persistent economic effects of the pandemic.
Vendors have been in conflict with market administrators since late July over a 10% increase in stall prices, with sellers instead asking for a 50% decrease because of their unhealthy financial situation after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The vendors are expected to pay the fees for a 20-year period, with administrators proposing a compromise last week — they allowed sellers to pay all the fees upfront or with staggered payments every five or 10 years. City Hall also agreed to drop the 10% increase.
The proposal seems to have not placated vendors, who submitted a petition to Hun Sen’s cabinet office at Wat Botum pagoda in Daun Penh district. Sellers said they were barely recovering after the worst effects of the pandemic and that their shops were still not very busy with buyers.
The petition added that vendors were borrowing money to pay back their loans to microfinance institutions.
Taing Kimpea, who said he was a representative for the vendors, was hopeful the prime minister would oblige and reduce the fees.
“In the meeting with the City Hall, they only facilitated for us to pay in installments, but it is still the full price,” Kimpea said.
“So all the vendors and I think that it is a lot to accept, so we came here to ask samdech for help so that we can get relief from some burden,” Kimpea said, using an honorific for the prime minister.
Kong Chamroeun, an official at the prime minister’s cabinet office, accepted the petition but did not answer any questions.
Hort Vanthy, an O’Russei market manager, did not want to comment on the petition and said he would wait for any results from his superiors. He insisted that vendors had to pay the stall fees.
“It is impossible, they must fulfill their duty,” he said.
Last week, City Hall proposed that vendors use a staggered fee-payment scheme and offered three options: 25% of the fees to be paid every 5 years, 50% every 10 years or the entire fee upfront. The duration of the new contracts will be from 31 December, 2022, to 31 December 2042.