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Tax chief vows reforms to meet 2023 revenue goal

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General Department of Taxation (GDT) director-general Kong Vibol. Heng Chivoan

Tax chief vows reforms to meet 2023 revenue goal

The General Department of Taxation (GDT) will make further reforms and upgrade the technology used in tax processes to make things easier for taxpayers and ensure the achievement of the 2023 revenue collection target of $3.57170 billion, or 14.46539 trillion riel, according to director-general Kong Vibol.

Next year’s figures, converted at a rate of 4,050 KHR/USD, are up 26.7 per cent over the 2022 target of $2.81955 billion, or 11.41913 trillion riel, and were set by the draft Law on Financial Management for 2023, which was approved by the Council of Ministers – or Cabinet – at an October 28 plenary session presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The draft law will now be sent to the National Assembly (NA) for a vote. If approved, the document will be forwarded to the Senate for review, after which it will be returned to the NA to proceed with a signature from the King – or acting head of state – to become law.

Vibol told The Post on November 1 that the GDT had collected more than $2.9 billion in revenues as of end-October – up 26 per cent year-on-year – which he noted is over 104 per cent of the 2022 full-year target.

On September 28, Vibol had disclosed that the GDT expects to collect from 110-115 per cent of the full-year target for 2022 by end-December. Accounting for rounding, this range can be represented as $3.087-3.258 billion. For reference, the GDT said it collected $2.78192 billion in revenue in 2021, or 124.02 per cent of the full-year target.

He voiced commitment to achieving next year’s target, conceding that progress could be hindered by domestic, regional and global economic headwinds associated with lingering Covid-19-related disruptions and the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

He elaborated that the Ukraine conflict has fuelled inflation and sharply pushed up energy prices across the globe, leading to a slowdown in economic growth and eating into European purchasing power, which will likely sap demand for Cambodian goods and deliver a significant blow to the local economy.

Vibol vowed to personally work hard to reform human resource management, modernise applicable technologies, and promote tax culture, transparency and especially good governance. “We will make every effort to achieve the plans set by the government.”

When asked about areas where reforms have been successful, the GDT chief mentioned the modernisation of IT infrastructure and fiscal administration, as well as human resource management. “We’ve trained our officials a lot … based on principles of good governance”.

“We are carrying out this modernisation to improve taxpayers’ voluntary compliance, making paying taxes more transparent and instilling confidence that the money actually makes it into state coffers.

“Another reason we’ve modernised a suite of IT systems is to make it harder for taxpayers to evade taxes,” he said.

Speaking to The Post on November 1, Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath commented that the continued uptrend in GDT revenues have been propelled by improvements in economic activity and rising awareness among taxpayers concerning their obligations.

He also credited the increasing number of properly registered businesses, along with the GDT’s efforts to encourage them do so, as well as to pay their taxes, to ensure an even playing field for taxpayers.

The GDT’s Vibol affirmed that the department would continue to make its reforms more sweeping, and stick to its modernisation plans to better manage the collection of an increasing amount of taxes, provide improved services, and encourage proper tax registration.

“We’ll keep pressing ahead with our reforms, build a more positive taxpaying culture among those who may have never known the law, and further reinforce the knowledge and capacities of officials,” he said.

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