A total of 684 companies were successfully registered on the Online Business Registration Platform – also known as the “Single Portal” – between 5pm November 2 and 2pm on the 28th, bringing the cumulative figure to 19,756, according to the Online Business Registration Service (“OBRS”), the competent government unit.

Additionally, since the platform’s inception as of November 28 at 2pm, 12,583 companies have made reservations to complete the registration process at a later date, 271 of which went through since 5pm November 2.

Although no registration applications had been rejected as of November 28, two reservation requests have been declined.

The government launched the platform on June 15, 2020 to streamline the registration process for companies, as part of a package of sweeping reforms aimed at improving the business and investment environment in Cambodia to better compete internationally, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

In its initial phase, just six ministries and state-run institutions were linked to the Single Portal: the finance, interior, commerce and labour ministries, and the General Department of Taxation (GDT) and Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

The OBRS, which is under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, reported that the companies on the Single Portal as of November 28 are 38 per cent women-owned and, at a 4,134 USD/KHR exchange rate, had total registered capital of “$5.58 trillion” – most likely meaning $5.58 billion, and hence about 23 trillion riel, considering that the corresponding figure for the 14,676 businesses listed as of June 14 was given at 19.151 trillion riel or $4.671 billion.

Broken down by business activities, “building construction” accounted for the lion’s share at “$967 billion” or 17 per cent, followed by “real estate activities involving the use of one’s own or leased properties” (“$637 billion”; 11 per cent), “management consulting” (“$292 billion”; five per cent), “manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur apparel” (“$270 billion”; five per cent) and “financial intermediation” (“$257 billion”; five per cent). All given monetary values are in all likelihood one thousand times greater than the true figures.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, commented that the Single Portal figures were significantly driven up by an early-July registration deadline for entities conducting e-commerce operations in the Kingdom, as businesses scrambled to become legally compliant and avoid the corresponding penalties.

Speaking to The Post on December 4, Vanak argued that proper registration creates a level playing field for businesses, underscoring that the government can introduce a variety of measures to “intervene as needed”.

“This online option has made it far easier for business owners to register, and has improved transparency and efficiency in administration, intervention and revenue collection,” he said, reflecting on how common it has historically been for businesses to be set up in the Kingdom without the proper legal foundation, especially in the digital space.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the Single Portal strongly aligns with the post-Covid-19 landscape and the Kingdom’s transition towards the digital economy.

“The private sector strongly supports new technology-based government reforms that facilitate business processes. [The Single Portal] not only makes registration faster and saves time, but also reduces bureaucracy and costs,” he said.

Heng remarked that macroeconomic trends have been very dynamic since the beginning of November 2021, when the government moved to allow the full resumption of socio-economic activity.

On September 1, 2021, the government deployed Phase II of the platform integrating four new agencies – the Non-Bank Financial Services Authority’s (NBFSA) Real Estate Business and Pawnshop Regulator (REBPB), and the industry, tourism and telecoms ministries.

The Single Portal can be accessed at registrationservices.gov.kh.