The General Department of Customs and Excise’s (GDCE) revenue collection plummeted 15.2 per cent to $614.8 million in the first quarter of this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
Last month alone, revenue reached $211.3 million, down by 4.7 per cent from March last year, GDCE figures show.
The largest sources of customs and excise revenue were vehicles and machinery (accounting for 43.5 per cent), petroleum and energy (22.8 per cent), construction materials and miscellaneous fees (6.3 per cent) and other products (27.4 per cent).
GDCE director-general Kun Nhem called on customs officials to assiduously hone their skills and be more proactive, intelligent and engaged in revenue collection to meet this year’s targets and surpass them.
This requires carrying out government policies and measures, preventing and cracking down on tax evasion and ensuring compliance with the law, as well as simplifying customs procedures and using information technology to improve trade facilitation and the overall investment climate, he said.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on April 21 that the effects of the global Covid-19 epidemic had led to a decline in international trade across all countries.
At the same time, the collection of tax revenue, especially customs duties, will inevitably decline, he said. "It’s a matter of fact that each country's customs revenue collection has declined during the Covid-19 epidemic, including Cambodia."
Vanak posited that the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takhmao would have little effect on customs revenue if it “doesn’t go on for months”.
The government adjusted import duty rates on vehicle imports by 10-20 percentage points from March 1 to optimise the collection of customs revenue.
Last year, the GDCE collected $2.4196 billion in revenue, down $795.5 million or 24.8 per cent compared to 2019. This was equivalent to 83.5 per cent of the 2020 plan.