The General Department of Customs and Excise’s revenue collection plummeted 16.2 per cent to $1.272 billion in the first half of this year from $1.517 billion compared to the corresponding period last year.
The global health crisis has precipitated a global demand and supply shock which has muted import-export activity in the Kingdom, leading to the lacklustre figures, said the department’s director-general Kun Nhem.
He said vehicle tax revenue sank 31.7 per cent and tax collected on construction materials shrunk 28.2 per cent. Meanwhile, tax revenue on petrol import gained 5.5 per cent and tax collected on other products climbed 3.1 per cent.
“By and large a key source of the department’s revenue collection, vehicle imports experienced a considerable downswing, more notably in the second quarter of 2020,” Nhem said.
He said the value of the Kingdom’s imports and exports dipped 9.4 and 7.5 per cent, respectively. Garments saw a 7.5 per cent slip in export value, but agricultural products saw a 14.5 per cent rise, with paddy, milled rice and natural rubber increasing the most.
Nhem said: “The decline in external trade volume and slump in customs and excise revenue in the first half of 2020 was a consequence of a number of factors, principally the spread of Covid-19 which has overwrought the domestic market and Cambodian export and struck international trade flows hard.”
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Hong Vanak added: “Although our government encouraged maintaining the level of imports and exports, with emphasis on neighbouring countries, we still saw that the volume of our imports and exports were lower than before due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“This is bound to affect the country’s revenue collection as well.
“This may pose a serious issue for our country given that revenue from customs and excise is even greater than revenue collection from taxation.
“We hope that our economy – and other economies – reopening will remedy our tax collection revenue in the second half,” he said.
The largest sources of customs and excise revenue were vehicles and machinery (accounting for 42.4 per cent), petroleum and energy (21.6 per cent), and other products and construction materials (34.7 per cent), department data show.
Nhem said: “The General Department of Customs and Excise will optimise revenue collection in the second half to raise to means to support the country’s economic growth during the tough times of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Last year, Cambodia collected some $6 billion in revenue, up more than $1.485 billion from the government’s $4.56 billion target. Of that, the department took in $2.26 billion while the General Department of Taxation (GDT) netted $2.3 billion.
The GDT collected $1.68407 billion in tax revenue in the first half of this year, up $181.68 million or 12 per cent compared to the same period last year, its data show.