Airline Tax Proposed To Help Clean Up Cambodia

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A woman and her child next to a canal clogged with rubbish in the suburbs of Phnom Penh. KHMER TIMES / FABIEN MOURET

The government is looking at ways to tackle Cambodia’s waste problem with a $1 charge on airline tickets touted to raise the cash.

The move comes after footage emerged showing the capital’s canals remain clogged with rubbish a year after video of the pollution was shown around the world. More damning evidence of waste mishandling surfaced during the Water Festival, with a video of street-cleaning contractors sweeping rubbish into the Tonle Sap river.

Now, the Environment Ministry wants to take $1 from every air ticket bought in Cambodia to go towards maintaining the environment. Environment Minister Say Samal said income generated will help to reduce the burden on the government.

Officials said yesterday they had discussed the proposal several times with the Finance Ministry, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation and other authorities. “The request has been welcomed by the Finance Ministry, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, the Interior Ministry and other relevant ministries,” said Environment Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap.

However, Sinn Chan Sereyvutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the issue was complicated and they needed more time to discuss it with the government and airline companies.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said the proposal could work. However, there might be complaints from people who buy air tickets, which are already $40 to $50 more expensive than in neighbouring countries, she said.

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, was unavailable to comment.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.