The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) collected $1.1595 billion in revenue in the first half of 2021, down 8.9 per cent year-on-year.

GDCE director-general Kun Nhem made the remark on July 14 via video link at a meeting to review the work done by the department over the first half of this year.

He said revenue collection in January-June had achieved 49 per cent of the target set by the Law on Financial Management for 2021.

Value-added tax (VAT) made up the majority of revenue at 37.8 per cent, followed by specific tax (37.6 per cent), customs duty (18.1 per cent), excise tax on petroleum products (4.5 per cent) and tariffs and other fees (two per cent), he said.

Vehicles and machinery topped the list of sources of customs and excise revenue at 42.3 per cent, followed by petroleum and energy (23.5 per cent), and construction materials and miscellaneous fees (6.2 per cent), with other products accounting for 28 per cent.

As part of its future work plan created in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the GDCE will “continue to anchor good governance at the institution . . . [and] strengthen the professional ethics of customs and excise officials”, he said.

“The GDCE will also pursue compliance in the private sector, simplify customs procedures and enhance trade facilitation mechanisms, beef up cooperative initiatives with the private sector, reinforce the prevention and suppression of smuggling, improve work efficiency and optimise the implementation process of information and communication technology [ICT] strategies,” Nhem said.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, previously told The Post that the sweeping effects of Covid-19 had led to a decline in international trade across all countries.

The collapse in trade, he said, would inevitably spell a downturn in the collection of tax revenue, especially customs duties. “It’s a matter of fact that each country’s customs revenue collection has declined during the Covid-19 pandemic, including Cambodia.”

Last year, the GDCE collected $2.4196 billion in revenue, down $795.5 million or 24.8 per cent compared to 2019. This was equivalent to 83.5 per cent of the 2020 plan.