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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cambodia's railway revenues drop by 25% over trade slump

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's railway revenues dropped by 25 percent in 2008 as freight deliveries plummeted and trade with Thailand declined, English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post said on Wednesday.

"Last year's revenues from railway transportation services was 1.5 million U.S. dollars, one quarter down from 2007," said Sokhom Pheakacanmony, director general of the Royal Railway of Cambodia.

The kingdom's limited railway, which runs from Phnom Penh municipality to port province Sihanoukville, as well as to Battambang province and Sisophon city in Bantey Meanchey province, are heavily dependent on trade with Thailand, he said.

"The drop was because the border dispute with Thailand led to a decrease in freight for goods such as cement that are brought in through the Poipet checkpoint," he was quoted by the paper as saying.

The border was closed entirely to train transportation in October, he added.

Meanwhile, the national election in July and the real estate downturn also affected the decline, he said.

"Cambodian businesses stocked up goods prior to the election and reduced their orders afterwards," he added.

According to official report, Cambodian trains transported 233,000 tons of goods in 2008, over 310,000 tons in 2007.
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Global Challenges | Children Increasingly Living With HIV/AIDS in Cambodia; Officials Focusing on Prevention

Cambodia has shifted the focus of its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts from young adults to children in response to 2008 statistics that show an increase in rates of antiretroviral use among children and mother-to-child transmission of the virus, the Phnom Penh Post reports. Mean Chhi Vun -- director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs -- said that the government has begun a program to provide "HIV testing for 6,745 pregnant women [this year] in 68 health centers across five of our operational districts." Thirty-five of the women tested positive for HIV and received follow-up care and medicine from the center, according to Vun. Teng Kunthy, general secretary of the National AIDS Authority of Cambodia, said that the government also is focusing on a national registration program to coordinate treatment for children living with HIV. The program "has been running smoothly so far and has encouraged more children to seek treatment," he said.

Vun said that between January and September of 2008, about 2,913 children received antiretroviral drugs, an increase from about 1,800 in 2007. He added that nationwide pediatric HIV/AIDS figures are determined by the number of children receiving antiretroviral treatment through the nation's clinics, adding that the figures do not include the estimated 600 children living with HIV who are not yet receiving treatment or who have not been tested for the virus. Chan Ry, deputy director of the National Pediatric Hospital, said that 300 children were treated at the facility in 2007 and now it is providing treatment to 1,155 children.

The increase in the number of cases involving MTCT "testif[ies] to the fact that women are not able to access good" prenatal care to prevent transmission, the Post reports. A 2006 UNAIDS report shows that while prevalence among young people ages 15 to 49 has decreased to 1.9% in 2003 -- compared with 3% in 1997 -- one-third of new HIV cases are because of MTCT. According to the Post, there are about 461,000 live births annually in Cambodia -- mostly outside of health centers and hospitals -- and an estimated 9,700 pregnant women are living with HIV. UNAIDS data indicates that without any intervention, about 3,000 infants may be born with HIV through vertical transmission. According to Tan Vouch Chheng, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Health, antiretroviral drugs are dispensed at 26 locations and HIV testing is offered at another 212 facilities. However, she added, "We have to expand our programs for prevention and the spread of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children."

The Post reports that the exact number of children living with HIV/AIDS is unknown but "experts support the proposition" that it is "rising fast." Seng Chhunleng, coordinator for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program at World Vision, said the number of children living with HIV/AIDS will continue to increase if something is not done to stop vertical transmission. "This is a problem that we still have to commit to solving," he said, adding that Cambodia "should provide better education and more medicine to stop transmission between mothers and children" (Leakhana/Kunthear, Phnom Penh Post, 1/6).
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Providential Holdings Subsidiary PHI Mining Group Signs Agreement With Angkor Metal Corporation to Engage in Copper Mining in Cambodia

Providential Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: PRVH) (FRANKFURT: PR7) (WKN 935160), a company engaged in mergers and acquisitions, real estate development, mining, and investing in special situations, today announced that PHI Mining Group, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: PHIG), a company focused on mining opportunities in Southeast Asia, through its wholly owned subsidiary Indochina Mining Corporation (IMC), has signed a principal contract with Angkor Metal Corporation, a Cambodia-based company, to survey, explore, exploit and process copper ores in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. According to the agreement, IMC will own 51% of Angkor Metal Corp. stock at the closing of the transaction.

Angkor Metal Corporation has already been granted an exploration license for a total area of 192 km2 (47,440 acres) in Kolean District, Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia, potentially one of the largest copper ore reserves in Southeast Asia, of which 2.5 km2 (618 acres) is fully surveyed with promising commercial exploitation ability. This mineralized material opportunity is estimated to be in excess of 500,000 metric tons and may amount to several million metric tons.
Providential Holdings, Inc. currently owns approximately 18 million shares (80%) of PHI Mining Group, Inc. stock.

About Providential Holdings

Providential Holdings and its subsidiaries engage in a number of diverse business activities, the most important of which are M&A and consulting services, real estate development, mining and investing in special situations. As part of its activities in Vietnam, Providential has been hosting seminars in conjunction with the Nasdaq Stock Market to help Vietnamese companies go public and raise capital through the U.S. financial markets. The Company currently develops "Pointe 91," an upscale residential community and luxury resort in Chu Lai, central Vietnam. Web site: www.phiglobal.com.

About PHI Mining Group

PHI Mining Group is a U.S.-based mining and exploration enterprise focused on acquiring and developing industrial mineral properties. The company is in the process of negotiating to acquire interests in diatomite, lead, copper and granite properties in South East Asia and South America. PHI Mining Group is committed to high standards in the areas of environmental management and health and safety for its employees and neighboring communities.

Web site: www.phimining.com .

Safe Harbor: This news release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected on the basis of such forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are made based upon management's beliefs, as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management pursuant to the "safe-harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
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Cambodian FDI inflows may weaken in 2009-World Bank

PHNOM PENH, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Foreign direct investment in Cambodia probably fell in 2008 and, given the dire state of the world economy, may drop again in 2009, but it could pick up the following year, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

Cambodia's investment agency said projects worth nearly $6 billion were approved last year but the value of actual inflows will not be known for some time.

Many of the approved projects were island resorts and construction projects largely invested in by Chinese and South Korean firms, said Soun Siththy, Deputy Director of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

The World Bank has projected FDI inflows at around $800 million last year and World Bank economist Huot Chea said they could fall further, 'probably to below $600 million', in 2009.

Cambodia said foreign investment of some $2.667 billion was approved in 2007 but the World Bank said the actual inflow was only $866 million.

The widespread economic slowdown, 'not political risk', was the main factor behind the drop in foreign investment, Huot Chea said.

However, the Bank expected inflows to recover in 2010 if the global economy bounced back.

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TIMELINE: Cambodia marks thirty years since Khmer Rouge

(Reuters) - Thousands of Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" marked 30 years on Wednesday since the fall of Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist regime, blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people. A handful of aging and infirm leaders from the movement are being tried at a joint Cambodian-United Nations tribunal three decades after their disastrous attempt to create an agrarian utopia ended.

Here is an overview of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge.

1953 - King Norodom Sihanouk proclaims independence from France, but soon abdicates to go into politics.

March 1969 - Secret U.S. bombing of Vietnamese communist bases in Cambodia begins.

March 18, 1970 - U.S.-backed premier Lon Nol ousts Sihanouk as prime minister while the latter is on an overseas trip.

April 17, 1975 - Khmer Rouge seize Phnom Penh and immediately start emptying cities and towns in a bid to create a totally agrarian society. An estimated 1.7 million people die during their nearly four years in power.

Dec 25, 1978 - Vietnam starts invasion of Cambodia after a series of increasingly daring cross-border Khmer Rouge raids.

Jan 7, 1979 - Vietnamese troops occupy Phnom Penh, driving Pol Pot to the Thai border. The occupation is to last 10 years.

May 1993 - U.N.-run election produces shaky coalition between Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla installed as PM by Hanoi in the mid-1980s.

July 1997 - Pol Pot ousted as Khmer Rouge leader.

April 15, 1998 - Pol Pot dies in the jungle-clad mountain redoubt of Anlong Ven on Thai border.

Feb 9, 1999 - Last Khmer Rouge guerrillas surrender.

March 2003 - After years of negotiations, Cambodia and the U.N. sign deal to set up a joint "Killing Fields" court. Almost six years later, the court has detained five top cadres but no full trial has started.

Source: Reuters
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