Due to a lack of funding, the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts has delayed publishing guidelines that are meant to increase clarity on inspection procedures for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Expected last year, the standards were intended to cover a range of business-
inspection procedures, such as food hygiene and health and safety, to ensure that SMEs were both clear on the law and to protect business from extortion attempts by corrupt inspectors, Cham Prasidh, minister at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, said in October.
At the same forum, business owners had raised concerns about repeated inspections and dealing with unauthorised inspectors. Some of them said the only way to get around these inspections was to make illegal payments, in order not to be harassed.
“The inspection guidelines book has already been finalized. We are requesting for funding to publish [the books] from donors. They are considering the request,” Heng Sokkung, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft told the Post yesterday. “Inspectors will go to the enterprise, evaluate them, recommend on what to change, give them deadline to change. Our inspectors will follow up with them until they can operate according to standards and regulation,” he said.
Sokkung said that businesses will also be expected to conduct self inspections and improve standards.
The secretary of state has called on SMEs to register so that the ministry can set out policies to provide the necessary training and support for them. As of March 2014, Cambodia had a total of 513,760 SMEs, up 11 per cent from 2011, according to official census figures by the ministry of planning.
“The sooner the guidelines come out the better. It will be a tool for SMEs to evaluate where they are at and how to improve themselves.
“At the same time, it will be a tool for SMEs to protect themselves from possible corruption,” said Te Taing Po, president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia.