Prime Minister Hun Manet has called on provincial leaders to compete with one another to attract investment in their provinces, in order to develop them further and unlock their full potential. The government has already decentralised power to the sub-national level.

Manet gave the instruction while meeting with nearly 20,000 workers in Takeo province’s Bati district on September 19.

“When it comes to attracting investors in each province, we should compete. We have decentralised power to the sub-national level, so each province should issue any policies related to their own preferred investment requirements – and these can be discussed within the existing framework,” he said.

“Some provinces have the potential to attract more tourists, and some may prefer a combination of tourism and industry. Let us think carefully about this, and have certain provinces compete to find sources of investment. It is not plausible for the government alone to pursue investors. We need to work together, in order to benefit all of our people,” he added.

Ky Sereyvath, an economist from the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Manet’s call was sound advice. Each provincial governor, he said, should be working to attract investors to their own province by preparing guidelines in investment potential and regulations, with clear contact details and easy access to the One Window Service Office (OWSO).

He noted that the plan would predominantly attract domestic investment, as the capital and provinces did not yet have the ability to attract overseas investors, and would be unlikely to do so until Cambodian embassies abroad help them to promote their investment opportunities.

“Therefore, I suggest that each province prepare detailed lists of potential areas of investment, and share them with the Kingdom’s diplomats,” he told The Post on September 19.

Long Dimanche, Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor, welcomed the prime minister’s recommendation, saying the provincial administration would act on it. He said many investors had recently visited the coastal province and shown renewed interest in economic opportunities there.

“We have always cooperated closely with the first provincial chamber of commerce and with foreign chambers of commerce, including from France, Europe, the US, as well as foreign investors from China and South Korea, among others. We have worked well together, and business and economic forums have brought us closer,” he said.

Vei Samnang, the governor of Kampong Speu province where garment factories are concentrated, said he had received similar instructions from former Prime Minister Hun Sen to attract investment.

“[Hun Sen] told me that we had to make great efforts and work tirelessly, not just fulfil a perfunctory role.

“[Manet’s] instructions are sensible, and I will continue to pay close attention to attracting more investors to Kampong Speu,” he said.