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Kingdom’s SMEs set to submit concerns to the prime minister

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Workers work at LY LY Food Industry in Phnom Penh in 2015. Hong Menea

Kingdom’s SMEs set to submit concerns to the prime minister

Some of the Kingdom’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are set to submit some of the sector’s main challenges to Prime Minister Hun Sen at the 21st Government-Private Sector Forum, which will be held at the end of this month.

More than 100 member SMEs from the Federation of Association for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec) on Monday gathered at Tonle Bassac II restaurant to raise the main sectoral challenges, including unfair competition, tax enforcement, transportation, import/export obstacles and financial access to the SME Bank.

Fasmec president Te Taingpor said: “We are looking for transparency for the sector, such as fair competition, tax compliance as well as fair trade, to promote our SMEs.

“After the meeting, we figured out the main challenges for the SME sector, and will submit them to the relevant ministries and seek further solutions from Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Government-Private Sector Forum this month,” he said.

No access

Taingpor said imported products are easily entering Cambodia’s market through exhibition events, but the Kingdom’s products find it difficult to access neighbouring countries.

“While we are talking about free markets, we should consider why we cannot access neighbouring markets as products from countries such as Thailand do in Cambodia’s market,” he said.

Laim Kim Leng, the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft’s Department of SMEs director-general, said SME policy is under review by the Minister of Industry and Handicraft and relevant ministries, as well as private sector entities to add their input to promote comprehensive awareness and efficiency.

“We understand the challenges of SMEs – that’s why we set up the policy to promote them” he said. “We have a lot of policies in place such as tax incentives and exhibitions to promote domestic products.”

The government issued a sub-decree on tax incentives for SMEs in priority sectors, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 2, which identified six priority sectors.

These included agro-industry and food production and processing, both of which will receive an income tax exemption for three to five years from the date of tax registration for newly registered enterprises, or from the date of tax registration update for enterprises already registered.

Lim Kim Hong Fish Sauce Enterprise Co Ltd director Leang Hong said though SMEs are key players in promoting the country’s economy, the government should seek a way to support SMEs by taking an effort to solve the sector’s challenges.

“We are SMEs, we face a lot of issues. It is not a challenge to reach out for exports, but we are facing the challenge of competition with imported products, which look the same as our products but are cheaper than ours,” he said.

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