I N another step toward the rehabilitation of Cambodia's economic infrastructure,
Cambodia has secured the services of the world's largest pre-shipment
Swiss company Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) began
work on Sept 1. It has nearly 33,000 employees in 140 countries around the
world. They undertake more than one million inspections each year, and also
operate in the ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the
Pre-shipment inspections - inspecting, testing and verifying
goods ordered into Cambodia by importers - is an important tool in ensuring that
correct taxes and tariffs are charged, and "swindles" such as under-declaring
goods are limited, and penalized if found.
SGS's appointment comes about
one year after an aborted attempt by former Finance Minister Sam Rainsy to
introduce the same service from a British-based company, Inchcape
Inchcape briefly set up in Rainsy's office, but before it could
begin work its contract was canceled by the government. Inchcape's demise was a
public example of how deep the rift had progressed between Rainsy - who was
trying to force through a series of economic measures - and government leaders,
who believed Rainsy was working independently of government consensus.
recently-issued "Notice to Importers" from the government says the objectives of
the inspection service is to ensure fair competition to favor investment and
ensure appropriate duties and taxes are collected. Inspections are compulsory
for all imported goods exceeding $5,000.
"Our job is to check the
quality, quantity and condition of goods an importer ordered from the country of
origin," said SGS executive Eran Banon of Geneva, who added SGS will be
investing $1 million in Cambodia before the end of the year.
its reports to the government free of charge. Importers foot SGS's costs through
a new one percent tax on imported goods.
The Swiss company will be
employing 35 local workers, 20 of whom will be trained in SGS subsidiaries
around the world.
Olivier Droz, 27, SGS's contract manager in Cambodia,
says: "I hope within a year we will guarantee fair competition between
Droz said the Royal government's contract with SGS "was done
by honest people, who don't want to see any more dumping by dishonest companies
leading others to bankruptcy."
However, a foreign expert, who requested
not to be named, said the problem of tax dodgers would not be solved
"It is a political problem. Corruption in the Customs has been
much reduced, but the system still needs improvement. The Code of Customs has
been waiting for promulgation for several months now," he said.
operate in coordination with the Bureau of Customs under the supervision of the
Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Commerce.