More than 10,000 businesses have been registered with the government’s Online Business Registration System as of December 21 in just over a year and a half since its launch, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
On September 1, the government deployed Phase II of the platform, known as the “Single Portal”, integrating four new agencies, which the Ministry of Economy and Finance said would add more classes of business licences and permits available for application, with an emphasis on priority sectors, to support national economic growth during the Covid-19 crisis.
These agencies are the Non-Bank Financial Services Authority’s Real Estate Business and Pawnshop Regulator (REBPB), and the industry, tourism and telecoms ministries, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth noted during the launch ceremony.
As of December 21, a total of 10,214 companies had successfully registered; 854 were pending approval; 7,986 had cleared a preliminary review and were “registered for reservation”, awaiting the final review; and 294 were under preliminary review.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on December 22 that an overall favourable business climate, the recent launch of the new investment law, free trade agreements signed with China and South Korea, and trade preferences provided by the US and EU were some of the key factors encouraging more new businesses to jump on the Single Portal bandwagon.
“An increasing number of new businesses are registering on the Single Portal, which saves us quite a bit of time, reduces unnecessary expenses and the complexities of paperwork, as well as bureaucracy, for investors and businessmen to be stoked to invest more in Cambodia,” he said.
Anthony Galliano, the group CEO of financial services firm Cambodian Investment Management Co Ltd, told The Post that the launch of the portal was a “monumental upgrade” to the company registration process and greatly reduced the timeframe, cost and bureaucracy of setting up a business.
“This milestone catapulted the Kingdom to the same level as Singapore and other word-class investment destinations for ease of registering a company, thus facilitating and expediting foreign investment,” he said.
He underlined that substantially reducing the timeline to register to just 14 business days from three-to-six months or more, while at the same time maintaining vigilance and diligence in the validation of shareholders, directors, domicile and business activity, is an achievement which he said should be recognised by the business community worldwide.
He maintained that the Single Portal was a “resounding success” and that the government should be applauded for what he termed a “pivotal shift”, saying that the Kingdom had once been one of the most difficult countries in which to register, but now was one of the easiest.
“[But] there are still shortcomings that need to be addressed that can greatly improve the process even more, perhaps elevating the Kingdom to best in class,” Galliano said.
He highlighted a number of remaining hassles in the registration process, including requirements that company representatives go to the General Department of Taxation post-registration to take a photograph and leave fingerprints, and that memorandums and articles of association and other Ministry of Commerce registration documents be signed in blue ink by every director and shareholder.
The Single Portal can be accessed at registrationservices.gov.kh.