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Covid-19 aid extended for tourism, aviation sectors

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Tourists visited Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on February 2020. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Covid-19 aid extended for tourism, aviation sectors

The government has extended the minimum tax exemption for the aviation sector and renewed monthly tax exemptions for the tourism industry, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Approved on Friday, this is part of its fifth round of stimulus measures aimed at reviving economic growth. The tax exemptions will apply in August and September. All domestic-registered airlines are eligible for it.

The government will also make the $40 payments to suspended employees in tourism-related businesses, including hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies registered with the General Department of Taxation and based in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Kampot provinces or Bavet and Poipet towns.

It called on employers to offer them additional perks on a voluntary basis.

“The government will regularly monitor the status of Covid-19 and the regional and global economic and financial situations to examine and evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on key sectors of the economy.

“[It will be] updating and preparing the necessary additional measures to stabilise economic activity as well as stimulate economic growth after the Covid-19 crisis,” it said.

Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan told The Post on Sunday that through the ministry, the government plans to mobilise a total of $1.164 billion to help restore and boost business viability during and after Covid-19.

Of that amount, $500 million will be disbursed as loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), $300 million will be set aside for the State-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia (SME Bank) and Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB), while $200 million will be used for credit guarantee schemes.

Soksensan said SME Bank and ARDB have already disbursed about $30 million in loans to SMEs as of the end of last month.

“SMEs will be able to ensure that their businesses remain afloat and that their workers retain their jobs if they can get their hands on more loans. I believe we are on the right track in regards to the SME sector.

“All business owners are happy to receive tax incentives from the government. If in the next two to three months, the Covid-19 situation improves, we will continue to consider new measures to help them,” he said.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha said the minimum tax exemption would partially alleviate the burden on airlines operating in Cambodia.

“Given the magnitude of the Covid-19 burden, the government has decided to waive the minimum tax for the aviation sector, and I am certain it will continue to provide more assistance if the novel coronavirus predicament persists,” he said.

The government said it will also continue to provide $40 allowances for suspended factory workers in the textile and footwear sectors.

Owners of temporarily closed companies in the textile and footwear sectors are also required to disburse $30 per month to each of their workers.

The government will also continue to provide cash assistance to poor and vulnerable people for August and September.

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