The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has waived the payment of customs broker licence fees for 2021-2022 as the Kingdom’s transport and logistics sectors reel from the sweeping effects of the ever-deepening Covid-19 pandemic.

A letter signed by GDCE director-general Kun Nhem on July 9 noted that the decision was based on a government press release regarding the directive on the ninth round of economic relief measures.

The directive introduced additional measures to mitigate some of the predicted impacts on various sectors strategically important to the national economy during the health crisis, steer recovery on a more sustainable trajectory, and to set the stage for greater economic growth in the Kingdom post-Covid-19, the letter noted.

Customs brokers that paid their licence fees in 2021 are no longer required to pay them in 2023, it said.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy welcomed and voiced support for the decision, expressing hope that the move would partially alleviate the burden on transport and logistics operators in the Kingdom.

He told The Post that the ongoing Covid-19 spread has severely curtailed business activity in the transportation and logistics sector, with only about 10 per cent of CLA’s 120 members earning a minimum viable income, a substantia portion of which is spent on operating costs and overhead.

Covid-19 has rendered about 60 per cent of members’ businesses unprofitable – only making enough to survive – and the remaining 30 per cent are in dire financial straits, facing a temporary suspension if the pandemic lingers much longer, he said.

“The waiver of customs broker licence fees is the right approach for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia to take.

“On behalf of the association, I would like to thank the head of the Royal Government for always thinking of those in the fields of transport and logistics in these strenuous circumstances,” Chanthy said.

According to him, the Ministry of Commerce has issued nearly 500 customs broker licences.

Speaking at the GDCE’s first quarterly review meeting in April, Nhem remarked that the crux of the department’s 2021 action plan is to carry out government policies and measures to prop up the Covid-wracked economy and broadly underpin a recovery, prevent and crack down on tax evasion and ensure compliance with the law.

“The General Department of Customs and Excise will also continue to improve trade facilitation and the overall investment climate through simplification of customs procedures and the use of information technology in customs work and engagement in social activities,” he said.

GDCE revenue collection reached $614.8 million in the first quarter of this year, dipping by 15.2 per cent year-on-year. This represents 26 per cent of the annual plan set by the Law on Financial Management for 2021.

The largest sources of customs and excise revenue were vehicles and machinery (accounting for 43.5 per cent), petroleum and energy (22.8 per cent), construction materials and miscellaneous fees (6.3 per cent) and other products (27.4 per cent), according to the department.