THE government's tax take on imports and exports dropped 22 percent to US$280 million in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, it said Thursday. The $78 million decline was outlined by Customs and Excise at its June monthly meeting.
The Kingdom's main imports are vehicles, spare parts and construction materials. Its major exports are garments and agricultural products.
Pen Siman, the director general of Customs and Excise's general department, said the main reason for the drop was a 60 percent decline in vehicle imports. He said 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles, most of them second-hand, were imported last year, and taxation on them represents a key revenue source.
Pen Siman would not be drawn on a precise figure, saying only that the Kingdom collected more than $500 million in 2008 from imports and exports.
Kum Nhem, the deputy director general of Customs and Excise's general department, told the Post that the drop in the number of vehicles being imported was a concern. He explained that import taxes are more valuable as the rate levied on imports is higher than that levied on exports.
"In my opinion, the global economic crisis is the main reason for the drop in tax revenue as it has caused a big drop in imports," Kum Nhem said. "We have tried our best to collect these taxes, but if imports and exports keep decreasing like this we won't be able to increase tax revenues at all."
Economist Kang Chandararot, the president of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said tax collection would improve by the end of 2010.
"That is when the world economy will have recovered and the tax-collection system will be better organised," he said.