Tax chief backs Daily shut­ter­ing

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Kali Ko­to­ski

TAX Depart­ment head Kong Vi­bol yes­ter­day de­fended his han­dling of a dis­pute with the now-shut­tered Cam­bo­dia Daily, telling at­ten­dees at a tax fo­rum that his depart­ment only fol­lowed pro­ce­dure by as­sess­ing the news­pa­per’s li­a­bil­i­ties and that it was the Daily that sought to politi­cise the mat­ter.

The Daily ceased op­er­a­tions on Septem­ber 4 af­ter it was handed an “ex­or­bi­tant” $6.3 mil­lion tax bill and given a month to, as Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen put it, “pay up or leave”. The fre­quently crit­i­cal pa­per failed to come up with the money, and its clo­sure co­in­cided with the ex­pul­sion of US-backed NGOs and the clo­sure of more than a dozen in­de­pen­dent me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“So the case of the Cam­bo­dia Daily is that they never came for­ward with the proof that we did some­thing wrong,” Vi­bol said. “Ex­cept they go and take the is­sue to the press [claim­ing] that we are try­ing to shut down the press.”

He added that had the Daily fol­lowed tax pro­ce­dures, it could have ap­pealed the bill, and also could have taken a stag­gered ap­proach to pay­ing it.

The news­pa­per’s for­mer deputy pub­lisher, Deborah Kr­ish­erS­teele, and for­mer gen­eral man­ager, Dou­glas Steele, could not be reached.

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