More than 11,000 businesses with a total capital of nearly $3.8 billion successfully registered their ventures with the Online Business Registration System (OBRS) via its IT Platform phase 1 in 2023, according to the OBRS. 

The government launched the initiative on June 15, 2020, incorporating four ministries – Economy and Finance; Interior; Commerce; and Labour and Vocational Training – along with the General Department of Taxation (GDT) and the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC). 

Phase II was launched on September 15, 2021, integrating three additional ministries – Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation; Tourism; and Post and Telecommunications – and the Real Estate Business and Pawnshop Regulator, a subordinate entity of the Non-Bank Financial Services Authority (NBFSA). 

Phase III was introduced on June 22, 2023, incorporating additional institutions.

As of January 1, the number of companies that have been successfully registered through the system since its inception stood at 23,323, with a total registered share capital of $9.6 billion. 

Breaking down the figure by business activity, building construction accounted for $1.13 billion, or 11.73%; real estate activities $1 billion, or 10.46%; accommodation services $999 million, or 10.41%; management consulting $582 million, or 6.05%; manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur, was $508 million, or 5.3%; and “others” represented $5.38 billion, or 56.05%.

Approximately 37.73% of the businesses are owned by women.

In addition to the aforementioned companies, there are 17,711 other ventures that have successfully applied for licensing and three that have been rejected, as per the OBRS. 

Chhin Ken, president of the Cambodia Digital Tech Association (CDTA), said that awareness of legal obligations and fostering a conducive registration environment has prompted more owners to register, thus legitimising their businesses. 

He said recognised companies promote fair competition and allow the government to monitor business numbers and develop tailored tax incentives or technical training courses.

“Once all the businesses are registered, it will be more profitable for both the government and the private sector. At the same time, it will help reduce price dumping by certain illegal business owners who conduct business without paying taxes,” he added.

Prime Minister Hun Manet underscored the important role of entrepreneurs in the national economy and urged all business owners to register correctly to facilitate timely governmental support and issue resolution, at the launch ceremony of the National Strategy for Informal Economic Development 2023-28 in October 2023.

He emphasised that the government’s policy aims to encourage, not coerce, businesspeople, particularly those in the informal economy, to register. 

He highlighted the importance of understanding the registration process, costs, potential penalties, obligations and outcomes, which are subjects of extensive inter-ministerial discussions. 

“We want more individuals to engage in this transitional phase, making it easier for the government to obtain data to facilitate policy management. This will help all businesspeople with timeliness and accuracy, especially in challenging times,” Manet said.

According to the prime minister, benefits of voluntary registration during this transitional period include tax exemptions and various other tax incentives, as well as access to financial support and training for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).