Cambodia collected some $1.68 billion in revenue from customs and taxation during the first three months of this year, said Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Speaking recently at the 18th Government-Private Sector Forum, he said revenue from the Kingdom’s customs fees accounted for about $668 million between January 1 and March 29 while taxation revenue in the same period was about $400 million.
The prime minister said the increasing revenue serves as a main driver of rapid development and generates projects that are funded by international donors. Many such projects require government contribution.
“Without the funds, [some projects] cannot be implemented, even with foreign aid or financing. For agreements signed within the last three months, it is almost $100 million that [the government] needs to prepare as contributions."
“[Some projects’] expenditure require 20-30 per cent in government contribution,” he stressed.
The prime minister said the increase in revenue from customs and taxation has aided the government’s ability to spend on official salaries and necessary public expenditures, and curtailed reliance on funds from abroad.
Cambodian Investment Management Co Ltd CEO Anthony Galliano said the focus has intensified to lift customs from a generally less-than-optimal and uneconomical department to a larger and more efficient revenue contributor, given the Kingdom’s economic growth and expanding cross-border trade.
In the last five years, there have been tremendous improvements to the General Department of Taxation.
Some of the greatest achievements are a substantial enlargement and diversification of the taxation base and creating a cultural shift towards acceptance of citizen and corporate tax obligations by enforcing tax registration and payment compliance.
Galliano said it is refreshing and comforting to see the Ministry of Economy and Finance propelling a much-needed upgrade in customs, which will improve Cambodia’s competitiveness in regional and global trade.
“[The government’s] policy is to reduce reliance on foreign aid and donations and [foster] self-reliance and independence."
“Increased foreign investment is supporting this goal and the [advancement] of the national tax collection framework is a major contributor to the government’s objective,” he said.