The government on June 22 formally launched the Phase III component of its Online Business Registration Platform (“OBRP”) integrating 12 state institutions in a bid to streamline registration and other legally-required procedures for enterprises operating or planning to operate in the Kingdom, such as those for licences, permits or certificates.

The 12 institutions are the commerce, industry, agriculture, justice and education ministries, the telecoms, insurance and accounting regulators, and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), General Department of Public Procurement (GDPP), and Techo Startup Center (TSC).

The Post understands that the Phase III component will be run concurrently with its first- and second-phase counterparts. The finance ministry clarified in a statement issued in connection with the launch that “Single Portal”, a name often used in conjunction with the OBRP, should refer solely to Phase I.

Many of the aforementioned institutions are also involved with the earlier components, with graphics presented at the June 22 launch ceremony showing that the TSC is to be linked with both phases I and II, which were respectively launched on June 15, 2020 and September 1, 2021.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth confirmed that 19 state institutions would be integrated across the OBRP’s three “phase” components. Seven of Phase III’s 12 organisations were incorporated as of the launch, while the remaining five are to be added by end-July, he said.

Pornmoniroth, who is also deputy prime minister and chairman of the finance ministry’s Economic and Financial Policy Committee (EFPC), emphasised how the Cambodian economy, despite a 3.1 per cent contraction in 2020, was able to bounce back from Covid-19 through effective pandemic management and a prompt reopening.

Regardless, to be ready to handle any potential catastrophe, Cambodia must work to increase its economy’s competitiveness and resilience, he stressed, adding that, by developing new digital economic models, raising productivity, and ensuring robust economic growth, the Kingdom is pursuing important priorities in digitalisation and digital transformation.

“With the vision of creating a smart and vibrant digital government, economy, and society, the Royal Government has set out two long-term policies: the ‘Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035’ and ‘Cambodia Digital Government Policy 2022-2035’,” the minister said, lauding the OBRP as a “key reform” to this end.

Phan Phalla, finance ministry secretary of state and chairman of the inter-ministerial working group in charge of the registration system, similarly hailed the OBRP as a “sweeping reform” that aims to promote economic growth, create jobs and draw in as much investment as possible to the Kingdom.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng commented to The Post on June 22 that as more businesses register via the OBRP, the government is better able to manage tax collection, promote corporate transparency, and identify the types of enterprises that are succeeding or failing so that supportive policies or measures can be put in place.

Likewise, the platform streamlines the process of creating full-fledged businesses with all of the associated legal protections, he said.

The OBRP “not only facilitates the government’s collection of more precise data on business activity, but also makes it easier for individual owners to legally register their businesses, and contributes to the reduction of unofficial fees”, Heng added.

A total of 26,312 companies, with cumulative “registered share capital” of $7.79 billion, were approved by Phase I government agencies and successfully registered on the OBRP in its 1,099 days of existence as of June 18 at 11:59pm, according to the Online Business Registration Service (“OBRS”).

This marks a 27 per cent rise from the 20,693 firms, and a 34 per cent jump from the $5.81 billion in total registered share capital posted by the OBRS – a unit under the finance ministry – for January 2 at 2pm, just 167 days earlier.