The Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA) has agreed to provide loans with below-market interest rates to residents of UNESCO lands around the Angkor temples in Siem Reap province who voluntarily relocate in the Run Ta Ek area about 20 km northeast of Angkor Wat.
This follows a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 13 asking microfinance institutions (MFIs) to offer such loans, potentially with additional favorable terms, to those who have settled in the area, in the commune of Run Ta Ek from Banteay Srei district. .
The CMA said in a September 14 press release that it “would like to encourage all members of the association operating [nearby] facilitate the provision of new loans on convenient and favorable terms to people who have settled in the Run Ta Ek eco-village at the request of the Royal Government.
“This gesture is the participation of the microfinance sector with the Royal Government in the [interest of maintenance] and the conservation of the Angkor Archaeological Park, a World Heritage Site,” he said.
CMA President Sok Voeun said his association held a meeting with members at the request of the prime minister. “All of our members have accepted the Prime Minister’s request to provide loans at below market interest rates and on reasonable terms to the residents of Run Ta Ek Eco-Village.
“But we will assess the amount of the loan based on the actual repayment capacity of the people who have actually settled there, as well as their income stream.[s],” he said. “We will not give any loan that does not help people, but [instead] give them an additional burden, so we have our officials to assess the real situation.
Voeun, who is also CEO of Sri Lankan company LOLC (Cambodia) Plc, said he had a meeting on September 14 with the regional manager of Siem Reap to provide guidelines which he said aligns with the rules of the association.
“I have just given policy guidance to our branch managers and staff in Siem Reap to work on loans with favorable rates and easing requirements,” he said, reiterating that loan sizes will be based on appraisals.
CMA spokesperson Kaing Tongngy told the Post that the association believes the upcoming specials will improve the livelihoods of those moving to the Run Ta Ek area, “as they may have financial resources to start new businesses and renovate their homes or [build] the news”.
He said the AMC is in talks with members on detailed guidelines and that those operating in and near the area “have accepted the commitment”.
However, like Voeun, Tongngy pointed out that “we cannot set a fixed interest rate, because the rates are based on loan size, loan term and many other conditions.”
The relocation operation to the areas of Run Ta Ek and Peak Sneng – and potentially other areas to be determined – comprises 93,351 plots representing a total of 10,945 ha, located in 114 target villages of 24 communes, in the provincial town of Siem Reap and four districts, according to the Ministry of Land Use Planning, Town Planning and Construction.
Since last month, a total of 1,117 households living in the park have randomly drawn lots to move to the new location. According to Hun Sen, the area is expected to eventually accommodate up to 6,000 households from the Angkor Conservation Area.