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Ministry: Clear price tags in riel, or else

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Customers shop at a supermarket in the capital’s Meanchey district in December 2022. Hong Menea

Ministry: Clear price tags in riel, or else

The Ministry of Commerce warns that it will fine business owners who fail to affix or post clear prices for their products and services as instructed by relevant authorities.

The ministry issued a prakas requiring all traders, vendors and service providers to put price tags in the local currency last week.

Ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat said business owners who refuse to follow the notice could be fined between 50,000 and 500,000 riel (around $10.25 and $125) depending on the severity of the offence.

The prakas announced that all traders, vendors and service providers who engage in commercial activity must display clear prices in riel. The only exceptions are for government authorised duty-free stores and other approved businesses, which were permitted to display prices in a foreign currency.

The parkas said that permission to denominate prices in a currency other than riel may be applied for through the one-window service office and is valid for one year.

“We do so to protect the reputation of Cambodia. When international tourists come to Cambodia, they see the price affixed to products or services, which should make it easier for them. It also improves accuracy and transparency of Cambodian businesses and increases circulation of our riel,” Sovicheat added.

Phan Oun, head of the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) Directorate-General, said the CCF had issued the instruction to all of its branches throughout the country so that they will cooperate with relevant institutions to enforce the prakas.

The March 22, 2023 prakas mentioned that Prime Minister Hun Sen had advised the commerce and tourism ministries to ensure that pricing on all goods and services is clear so that consumers are protected from being overcharged or having to haggle over prices.

“If we encounter anyone violating the prakas, they will receive instruction and if they refuse to follow the instructions, they will be made to sign contracts agreeing to follow the prakas. Those who still do not follow it will then be fined according to legal procedures without exception,” Phan Oun stated.

However, some merchants have expressed confusion over the requirement that all prices must be stated in riel when foreign visitors by and large are far more familiar with US dollars, which is also legal tender in Cambodia – a fact that is often pointed out to potential tourists because of its ease of use and convenience for them.

Taing Socheat, managing director at MG Pacific Co Ltd, said that the pricing in riel would actually make it easier for foreign customers because, he claimed, tourists were often sceptical about the prices posted in dollars due to perceived exchange rate issues, as many of them did not realise that the value of the riel has been pegged to the dollar very closely for decades now and the exchange rate is always roughly the same.

“Their idea is that the exchange rate fluctuates. Sometimes, buyers are confused and have problems if the product is sold in dollars. But mostly I support this initiative because it not only makes it easier for buyers, but more importantly it also promotes the local currency so that it will be circulated more widely,” he said.


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