The General Department of Taxation (GDT) collected 2.07466 trillion riel, or $512.26 million, in taxes in the first two months of 2022, surging by 22.69 per cent over the same period last year, according to its director-general Kong Vibol on March 14.

This represents more than 18 per cent of this year’s annual target of over $2.82 billion, as set by the Ministry of Economy and Finance – the GDT’s parent ministry – in the Law on Financial Management for 2022. For reference, the GDT collected $2.78192 billion in taxes last year.

The GDT collected $223.96 million through the online tax revenue data management system in February alone, or 7.94 per cent of the annual target.

Vibol noted that revenues from the five main tax categories recorded significant year-on-year gains last month, led by payroll tax at 23.17 per cent, followed by special tax (17.19 per cent), stamp duty (16.98 per cent), income tax (14.18 per cent), and value-added tax (VAT) at 5.52 per cent.

The GDT chief chalked up the tax revenue increases seen in January-February as “successful achievements” of the department.

“For 2022, in order to ensure the efficiency of tax collection to meet this year’s targets, all units of the GDT must continue to strengthen the implementation of measures, policies and fiscal administration.

“That includes: continuing to follow the recommendations of economy minister [Aun Pornmoniroth], enforcing the mandate to install flow meter systems at local breweries and non-alcoholic beverage production facilities, beefing up management of VAT refunds, managing and monitoring enterprises’ tax returns, and improving other functions,” he said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath attributed the tax revenue increases recorded in early 2022 to general economic recovery.

However, he voiced concern that economic growth could be dented by, among other things, blows to the transport sector as a result of spiralling global oil prices fuelled by the ongoing Ukraine conflict; the oil cartel OPEC’s apparent unwillingness to boost output faster; and the US Federal Reserve’s decision to cut its benchmark interest rate, which he said has led to rising inflation in the country.

Sereyvath predicted that even if the Cambodian economy misses its 5.6 per cent growth target this year, “it will not contract”, even when factoring in the effects of the sky-high fuel prices on domestic spending, and hence the retail and service sectors.

“And our exports will most likely face limited damage. In a nutshell, the economy will continue to grow, but perhaps not as much as expected,” he told The Post.