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$200M credit guarantee scheme launched

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: March 29, 2021

The Ministry of Economy and Finance on March 29 launched a $200 million credit guarantee scheme to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with larger loans and easier application procedures to ensure their businesses remain afloat during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The Business Recovery Guarantee Scheme (BRGS), under the ministry’s Credit Guarantee Corporation of Cambodia Plc (CGCC), will widen access to formal loans from participating financial institutions (PFI) for working capital, investment and business expansions, the ministry said in a press release.

Applicants must be majority Cambodian-owned to qualify for loans under BRGS, it said, noting that the initiative is consistent with government policy that addresses crisis survival and recovery support for the economy during the pandemic.

CGCC is the Kingdom’s first credit guarantee corporation, established by sub-decree No 140 ANKr BK on September 1 as a state-owned enterprise under the ministry’s technical and financial direction.

The ministry noted that CGCC’s primary mission is to provide credit guarantees to PFIs to support and assist financially-viable businesses that lack collateral to secure loans.

CGCC’s guarantee will act as collateral or security for 70-80 per cent of the loan amount borrowed from PFIs and hence reduce the physical collateral required from borrowers, it said.

Ministry secretary of state and CGCC chairman Ros Seilava said the instrument comes at a timely moment to support businesses that plan to borrow from the PFIs during the pandemic.

“This milestone supports the government’s policy to maintain sustainable and inclusive economic growth and [is] in line with the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025,” he said, calling for financial institutions to join the roster of PFIs and “ensure good credit governance”.

In Channy, president and group managing directors of ACLEDA Bank Plc, one of the PFIs, lauded the move as a step forward to increasing the supply of loans to the SME sector.

“The credit guarantee is crucial, especially for those customers who have distinguished business plans, but don’t have enough collateral for the full amount of loans that they may need.

“This kind of scheme is long overdue since it will help customers, borrowers and entrepreneurs grow their businesses [by giving them] loan security.”

He explained that customers who wish to apply for loans under the scheme only need to follow the standard procedures at PFIs.

As of March 26, outstanding loan balance had risen six per cent from end-2020 to $4.559 billion and money in savings and deposit accounts had shot up nine per cent to $4.839 billion, he said.

Toch Chaochek, CEO of Cambodia Post Bank Plc, another PFI, said BRGS will prove a lifeline for SMEs with limited productive resources and budgets that had traditionally been unattractive to lenders and financiers.

“It is an admirable step by the government and will afford our SMEs an increased ability to secure larger loans through the scheme despite not having enough collateral, which is their key concern. And this stellar scheme comes bang on time given the current situation,” he said.

The ministry listed the PFIs as ACLEDA Bank, Cambodia Post Bank, Asia Pacific Development Bank, AMK MFI, Canadia Bank, Phillip Bank and Prince Bank, noting that other institutions are in the process of joining.

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ARDB seeks $30M more for SME loans

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: March 22, 2021

Agriculture and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) expects to receive an additional $30 million from the government for special-purpose loans to keep the Kingdom’s smaller businesses afloat amid the ongoing economic duress of Covid-19, according to the state-owned bank’s director-general Kao Thach.

Thach told The Post on March 22 that ARDB recently submitted a request to the government for the additional funds after the bank earlier this year finished disbursing $50 million that was supplied by state coffers in 2020.

He noted that fruit and vegetable growers, livestock farmers and aquaculturists received the bulk of the $50 million and put in steadily-increasing numbers of loan applications to increase their cultivation and expand their businesses.

“We’ve asked for an additional $30 million as there is growing demand. We’ll continue to encourage farmers who need more capital to contact ARDB for these loans,” Thach said.

Propping up the Kingdom’s farmers is ARDB’s contribution to undergirding the government’s drive to ramp up domestic agricultural production, ensure food security and boost export capacity, he said.

“We’re requesting additional loans from the government to continue providing low-interest loans to farmers in these sectors,” said Thach.

Lim Sokheng, owner of a fish farm in Phnom Penh’s northernmost Prek Pnov district, said the relatively low interest rates had piqued his interest in applying for a special loan at ARDB.

He said a positive reply from the government would provide access to loans for many more aquaculturists to ramp up production and cushion some of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“This will breed a lot of opportunities for those who need capital to keep their businesses from going under,” he said.

ARDB said in a recent statement that the loans aim to increase production chains and maintain competitiveness in the small- and medium-sized enterprise sector amid Covid-19 and the partial withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme.

On August 12, the European Commission officially withdrew 20 per cent of the EBA scheme from Cambodia. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.19 billion) of the Kingdom’s annual exports to the bloc.

ARDB currently offers loans ranging between $10,000 and $300,000.

The government in May decided to cut the annual interest rates from six to five per cent for working capital and from 6.5 to 5.5 per cent for capital investment, without service charges.

It also adjusted the maximum loan term from five to seven years for capital investment while retaining a short-term maximum of two years for working capital.

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Report details public water sources

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: February 17, 2021

The General Population Census of Cambodia 2019 has provided detailed information regarding sources of clean drinking water for the provincial populations across the Kingdom, determining which regions depend on rivers, streams, lakes and ponds as primary sources while others depend mostly on wells or transported water.

The census report indicated that Stung Treng province had the highest rate of dependence on natural bodies of water and waterways at 46.1 per cent of the population. Six other provinces relying on these as primary sources of water were Pursat (28.4 per cent), Kampot (25.3 per cent), Oddar Meanchey (24.8 per cent), Pailin (21.5 per cent), Battambang (20.9 per cent) and Mondulkiri (20.6 per cent).

The provinces most dependent on water transported by tanker lorries were Oddar Meanchey (21.3 per cent) and Kampong Speu (17.8 per cent).

Provinces with the highest use of bottled drinking water were Pailin (30.3 per cent), Kep (26.5 per cent) and Banteay Meanchey (22 per cent).

The five provinces where people were most dependent on pumping or drilling wells were Svay Rieng (83.9 per cent), Prey Veng (70 per cent), Tbong Khmum (51.2 per cent), Siem Reap (39.1 per cent) and Kampong Chhnang (36.5 per cent).

Neam Kopy, an environmental specialist, described Cambodia as a water-rich country but said in order to save enough water to meet the people’s needs, the government should find better ways to store water according to the actual situation of each area.

“In the areas that receive the most rainfall, we need to build additional reservoirs or increase the capacities of existing reservoirs to sustain supply through the dry season. The government should be strategic. Every year, our country has lots of rainfall. The problem is how to keep the water from the rainy season for use in the dry season,” he said.

Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman Chan Yutha could not be reached for comment on February 17.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said work was ongoing to protect natural water resources.

“Maintaining forests and water sources is a necessary task. For example, Phnom Kulen is the main water source for Siem Reap province, and there are as many as 56 water sources which need to be maintained to protect water supplies for the whole province. It is the same with other provinces, which necessarily means maintaining water sources including forests,” he said.

Pheaktra added that paying closer attention to water resources has resulted in the government implementing a pilot programme called “Payment for Ecosystem Service”, a new system of tax liabilities for businesses which consume water as part of their income model.

“So far, we are applying the system on a voluntary basis, and we are using that money to protect water resources and forests in the area,” he said.

The environment ministry has also appealed to the public as well as companies, hotels and guesthouses to conserve water for the sake of the environment.

If water resources are not protected, the country could face shortages and other challenges in the context of climate change, Pheaktra said.

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Water Supply Capacity to Be Extended as Demand on the Rise

Source: Agence Kampuchea Presse
Date: July 16, 2020

Demand for clean water in Phnom Penh capital is on the rise due to the growing population and constructions in the city. 

To respond to the current demand, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) has planned to attract investments and seek financial support for the expansion of investment in building clean water treatment plants. 

H.E. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, said that more investments on clean water treatment plants are in need as the government is set to intensify access to clean water for people both in urban and remote areas. 

“Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has to further try its best to increase its capacity to meet the demand as Phnom Penh currently has been expanded into a bigger area and big building development and the number of urban people have rapidly increased,” H.E. Cham Prasidh said. 

“Expanding investment capital, attracting investment, seeking assistance and development partners are necessary to extend clean water services to urban areas and then to remote areas in line with the government’s vision […],” he added.  

Currently, PPWSA is capable of supplying 632,000 cubic metres of clean water per day in the capital. The water is produced by four water treatment plants, including Phoum Prek water station (170,000 cubic metres), Chroy Changvar water station (150,000 cubic metres), Niroth water station (260,000 cubic metres), and Chamkar Mon water station (52,000 cubic metres).

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ARDB farm loans now total $37M

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: July 09, 2020

Loan applications to the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) reached $37 million on Thursday since it announced the launch of a $50 million emergency fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on March 16.

ARDB director-general Kao Thach told The Post that the bank has received 350 loan applications since the government launched the fund. More than $10 million in loans have been approved.

He said: “Fish and animals farmers have applied for the most loans, follows by vegetable growers.

“These lacklustre approval figures are a consequence of slow document processing in some areas, which held back the overall approval procedure.”

He said the loan scheme would allow SMEs in agro-industry to expand their businesses and enhance their production lines, aiming to hone their competitive edge and reducing imports from neighbouring countries.

“We will continue to invite and encourage those who need capital to expand their business to file for loan applications under our one-of-a-kind scheme,” said Thach.

A farmer from Banteay Meanchey province, who declined to be named, said he is considering applying for a loan to expand his cultivation of Australian red-claw crayfish.

He said the crayfish – also known by its scientific name Cherax quadricarinatus – has become a highly marketable commodity, with a price of $30 per kg.

“I am interested in borrowing money from the bank because of the low interest rate. I have just started crayfish farming and have more than 4,000, and I want more capital to raise even more,” he said.

The ARDB currently offers loans ranging between $10,000 and $300,000.

The government in May decided to cut the annual interest rates from six to five per cent for working capital and from 6.5 to 5.5 per cent for capital investment, without service charges.

Thach said at a signing ceremony with Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank late in May that the ARDB could receive some parts of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s $300 million financing, which will allocate additional financing to support and play a catalyst role to boost growth in key sectors during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

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Water company expects big revenue rise after 2019 loss

Source: Khmer Times
Date: June 30, 2020

State-owned utility Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PWSA), the first Cambodian Securities Exchange-listed company, aims to collect substantially more revenue in 2020 after a sharp drop in total revenue last year, according to the result of its eighth annual general shareholders’ meeting.

In 2019, PWSA revenue declined more than 18 percent to some $52.79 million from $64.65 million in 2018, according to a financial report filed to the CSX.

The report shows that operating profit fell 45.22 per cent to $12.67 million from more than $23.13 million while net profit decreased 54.77 per cent to $8.12 million from $17.96 million.

However, the company is targeting $79.83 million in revenue in 2020 with net profit of more than $24.60 million.

In 2019, the company produced 221,656,505 cubic metres of clean water supply with 23,035 new users in the city connected to potable water. The company said for the year 2020, it would increase its capacity to produce 227,009,290 cubic metres of clean water and add 20,000 more new users.

According to its annual general shareholders’ meeting, the company will share its 2019 dividend of $4.89 million to shareholders in July with 230 riel ($0.057) per share.

“We would like to thank to all our levels of staff who have contributed hard work to  establish a new achievement to boost the company’s operations in response to people’s  and businesses’ needs,” the company said.

The company has supported a priority projects – the National Strategic Development Plan water supply service target of 100 percent in central urban areas by 2025 and its 2030 Strategic Development Plan of supplying clean water in Phnom Penh City. Consumption of clean water increased to 331 million cubic metres in 2019.

According to current figures
from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, 4.9 million Cambodians are already connected to clean water, representing 80 percent of urban households in the country.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Cham Prasidh has called on the private sector to invest in the clean water sector to assist in helping the government reach its goal.

The Cambodian government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) early this month signed a grant agreement to expand the water supply system in Takhmao City, at a total cost of $32 million.

The project aims to improve access to safe water in Takhmao city through the construction of a new water supply facility that has a treatment capacity of 30,000 cubic metres per day and is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

The project marks the 12th grant project that has been funded by the Japanese aid organisation in Cambodia’s water supply sector and the sixth to the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) since 1993.

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Residents suffer as Stung Sen River runs dry

Source: Khmer Times
Date: 13 May 2020

Residents and authorities in Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district yesterday expressed deep concern over the persistence of severe drought in the Stung Sen River.

Provincial governor Sok Lou said yesterday many communities are suffering from a scarcity in water supply, which has led to concerns regarding the cultivation of crops.

“Since the arrival of the dry season, residents of the Kampong Svay district has not seen rainfall. The absence of rain has further dried up the Stung Sen River. In some areas, the water level has dropped drastically to the bottom of the river,” said Mr Lou.

Stung Sen River is a major water source for residents in the province. Aside from being a source of water for daily use and irrigation of agricultural crops, the river has also been a place for fishing and bathing animals.

“Some families have lost their source of income since the drought struck,” said Mr Lou.

Despite the challenges, no measure has been carried out by experts and relevant authorities to respond to the drought.

“The affected residents can solve the problem by using a drainage system as well as the remaining water in canals, streams and ponds which are near their houses for daily use,” said Mr Lou, as he expressed hope that the coming rainy season will alleviate the water scarcity.

Water levels drop drastically in drought-stricken Stung Sen River. Facebook
Water levels drop drastically in drought-stricken Stung Sen River. Facebook

“I think Kampong Thom is not the only province experiencing drought. Other provinces have also been facing the same weather phenomenon. However, I believe that when the rainy season arrives, water levels will rise and return to normal,” he added.

In an interview with Khmer Times in March, farmers from the provinces of Pursat and Battambang aired their struggles from water shortages brought by high temperatures during this year’s dry season.

The Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology, in a forecast last month, said the months of April to October will be dominated by the transition between cold and warm phases.

The ministerial notification also said a possible drought period will likely happen from the second week of July until the end of the month.

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Jica loans $50M to HKL to aid rural MSMEs

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: 07 April, 2020

HATTHA Kasekar Limited (HKL), a subsidiary of Thai-based Bank of Ayudhya Pcl, (Krungsri), received a $50 million loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to expand its operation and support Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in rural areas.

The loan agreement was reached on March 27 and will provide funds to rural MSMEs through the Private Sector Investment and Finance system based on Jica’s Facility for Accelerating Financial Inclusion in Asia programme, HKL said in a press release.

“Ninety per cent of the population below the poverty line currently resides in rural Cambodia. It is important to support them in their growth and create more employment to further reduce poverty.

“However, a large financial gap exists. The fact that many MSMEs have limited access to finance has restrained their growth.

“Also of note, many MSMEs are run by women. Ensuring MSMEs’ growth is an important part of the empowerment of women,” it said.

The Cambodia Inter-censal Economic Survey 2014 says women owned 26 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 62 per cent of micro-enterprises.

HKL said: “This loan from Jica supports HKL in expanding lending activity to MSMEs in rural areas. It is designed to reduce poverty and regional disparity in Cambodia.

Thus it will contribute not only to sustainable economic growth but also to [achieving the UN-drafted] SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals],” it added.

HKL said some 82 per cent of its customers are based in rural areas and 61 per cent of its loans are extended to women customers.

“In response to the customers’ needs for financial services, HKL has 177 branches located across the country to contribute to financial inclusion and provide services to MSMEs and other customers … in both rural and urban areas,” it said.

HKL president and CEO Hout Ieng Tong could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

On Friday, the government officially launched the Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia with an initial capital of $100 million to provide financing for SMEs.

An international Finance Corporation report released in August said Cambodia’s women entrepreneurs continue to struggle with limited access to financing for business expansion. Only three per cent have access to credit from MFIs and banks.

It estimated that the unmet demand for credit from women entrepreneurs is currently $4.2 billion – a figure that is equivalent to almost 63 per cent of Cambodia’s national budget of $6.7 billion for last year.

In mid-March, the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank on Monday launched a $50 million fund to increase access to credit for SMEs in the local agricultural sector.

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Water shortages raise alarm in Phnom Penh

Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Date: 15 March 2020

As temperatures rise across the Kingdom, several communes in Phnom Penh are reporting water shortages.

Tan Ratanak, a 22-year-old woman from Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, told The Post there was no water in her commune last week.

“All last week, from 7am to 8:30pm, not a single drop came out of the faucet. It happened to all the neighbours. Some evenings, the water didn’t return until 10pm,” she said.

Ratanak claimed the problem with the water supply was caused by renovations of canals and streets in the capital.

Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) director-general Sim Sitha said the shortage was not due to technical issues but to an unexpected increase in consumption.

“We can supply 600,000 cubic metres per day while demand has now exceeded 700,000 cubic metres. We are about 100,000 cubic meters short,” he said.

Sitha said water supply in the capital is increasing every year but not as fast as the demand. According to him, in 2016, PPWSA produced only 400,000 cubic metres of clean water daily.

The government is now building a new water treatment plant in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district. The project which is still in the early stages is being built at a cost of $300 million and can produce 400,000 cubic metres per day.

Once construction of the plant completes in 2023, Sitha says he hopes water shortages will end.

On Friday, Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng urged district authorities to prioritise solving the water shortage issue.

“As Phnom Penh grows, and more houses and high-rise buildings are built, demand for water will continue to expand,” he warned.

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Calls on private sector to help achieve clean water targets

Source: Khmer Times
Date: March 04, 2020

Consumption of clean water increased to 331 million cubic metres in 2019, as the government aims for its 2025 goal to have 100 percent of households in urban areas connected to potable water.

According to current figures from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, 4.9 million Cambodians are already connected to clean water, representing 80 percent of urban households in the country.

Minister of Industry and Handicraft Cham Prasidh has called on the private sector to invest in the clean water sector to assist in helping the government reach its goal.

Cham told Khmer Times that as the demand for clean water has risen the government has encouraged investment from the private sector to assist in producing and connecting more Cambodian households to clean water.

“The ministry encourages participation from the private sector to help build and expand clean water distribution systems to new areas.

“We are also increasing attention to clean water distribution to ensure both urban and rural households enjoy access to clean water.

“As the percentage of clean water that is supplied by state-owned enterprises is limited, it is vital to encourage the private sector to invest in infrastructure and produce quality water safely, sustainably and at a reasonable price.”

Ministry figures show that the nation’s 2019 water supply was mostly produced by the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, producing 221 million cubic metres. This was followed by Siem Reap Water Supply Authority, producing 6.9 million cubic metres, 11-state owned water supply authorities producing 37 million cubic metres and 258 private suppliers producing 81 million cubic metres.

A total of 73,830 kilometres of pipeline have been connected to households across the country, of which, 68,682 kilometres were built and are owned by the private sector.

According to charity, approximately 3 million people out of the total population in Cambodia lack access to safe water, and 6.5 million lack access to improved sanitation.

With approximately 77 percent of Cambodians living in rural areas, poor access to safe water and sanitation disproportionately affects its rural communities.

Although Cambodia has one the fastest growing economies in Asia, the gross domestic product per capita still remains low compared with neighbouring countries and access to affordable financing for water and sanitation remains a barrier for families in need of securing water connections and toilets for their homes.

Access to affordable financing for water and sanitation remains a barrier for families in need of safe water and sanitation in Cambodia.