The Cambodian government is nearing completion of a policy aimed at strengthening the Kingdom’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a senior official said yesterday.
Minister for Industry and Handicraft Cham Prasidh yesterday told reporters his ministry was preparing a comprehensive SME policy with the purpose of boosting the sector’s competitiveness. “Maybe during the first half of next year , the policy will be ready for implementation,” he said during the National Conference on ASEAN Economic Integration in Phnom Penh.
“But for now the policy remains in the preparation stage, and it is on schedule to be discussed with the private sector and relevant partners during January next year.”
Prasidh said the policy will outline government’s strategy in solving technical training issues within the SME bracket, and will upgrade safety and quality standards for the sector.
According to 2011 Cambodia Economic Census, Cambodia has more than 500,000 SMEs operating in the country, a figure that represents 99 per cent of all businesses operating in the Kingdom and an estimated 1.67 million jobs for Cambodians.
Edward Clarence Smith, regional office director and representative for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), welcomed the arrival of an SME strategy in the lead-up to the launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
“There will be tremendous opportunity for SMEs from the integration of the AEC,” he said.
Further integration of regional infrastructure, assuring good governance, greater investment in training and education, as well as developing a better understanding of regional free trade were all needed for Cambodia’s economy to capitalise on regional integration, Smith added.
“Companies, including SMEs need to be proactively taking steps to increase their productivity and competitiveness by improving production technique, to upgrade the safety and quality of their products, and to ensure an efficient use of resource,” he said.
Keo Mom, chief executive officer of LyLy Food Industry, said Cambodia’s SME sector is still struggling with long-running challenges such as high electricity costs, a lack of human resources, difficulties in accessing finance, and poor law enforcement.
“When my products export to markets abroad, they first have to cross many controlling processes to ensure the safety of our products,” she said, alleging that the same scrutiny is not applied to all products entering Cambodia.
“With this in mind, we are definitely competing in an unfair situation,” she added.
“It is very difficult for our small production resources to overcome this issue.”