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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Imports inspector ends contract

Imports inspector ends contract

090520_14.jpg
090520_14.jpg

French company BIVAC set to leave Cambodia after finishing customs

operations in the Kingdom at the end of April, as Government says it

has acquired necessary expertise.

Photo by:
TRACEY SHELTON

A lorry moves containers at Phnom Penh's dry port in this file photo. French company BIVAC has finished its contract with Cambodia. The government determined it now has sufficient capacity to undertake pre-shipment inspections. 

THE government will not renew its contract with BIVAC, the French company contracted in April 2006 to undertake pre-shipment inspections on goods imported from ASEAN nations.

Kun Nhem, the Customs and Excise deputy director general, told the Post on Tuesday the government now has qualified staff that can do the job.

"The contract is finished and as of May 1 importers should not pay fees to BIVAC," he said. "The contract ended officially on April 30. We are now qualified to check the original prices of goods in the country of origin for all shipments."

Pre-shipment inspection is the practice of employing specialised private firms to check the price, quantity and quality of goods ordered from another country.

Kun Nhem said the Kingdom had outsourced its pre-shipment inspection role longer than any other ASEAN nation inspector, and noted that import-tax revenues for May were unchanged compared with those months for which BIVAC was responsible.

"Having BIVAC is the same as not having BIVAC," he concluded.

Kun Nhem said that under the BIVAC system, importers paid a fee to the company for the service, and BIVAC's agents in the nations from where goods were shipped would check the shipment.

"Now without BIVAC the importers are happy because they don't have to incur this fee," he said, adding that the service added to the price paid by consumers.

An office worker at BIVAC's Cambodia office confirmed that the firm ceased pre-inspection work on May 1.

  Without BIVAC the importers are happy ... they don't have to incur this fee.

She said BIVAC charged importers US$250 for a 40-foot container, and $200 for a 20-foot container, with a maximum charge of $500. She referred all other questions to her managers, but the Post was unable to contact them.

Chan Sophal, the president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said cutting out BIVAC would benefit importers, and agreed that local officials were technically able to take over the PSI role.

"Whether they have the will to do it is another matter," he said.

Chan Sophal said the government should take other measures to ensure that revenue from customs fees ended up in the Treasury. He said low salaries paid to Customs officials resulted in some keeping revenues for themselves.

"With the economic downturn, the government should look at cutting spending - such as spending on companies like BIVAC," he said. "And corrupt customs officials take more money for their own pockets than they hand to the nation."

He said officials should stop taking advantage of their positions and should realise the revenue is needed to develop the country in a time of economic crisis.

Tyre importer Kong Nuon, the chairman of the Kong Nuon Import and Export Company, said the termination of BIVAC's contract had made the import process easier and cheaper.

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