The total capital of businesses enrolled through the Online Business Registration System (OBRS) via IT Platform phase I – commonly known as Single Portal – had reached almost $10 billion as of January 22, with the number of listed companies increasing to over 32,000, official data showed.

Six government institutions were incorporated into the registration portal during this initial phase, launched 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 state-run Non-Bank Financial Services Authority (NBFSA). 

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

According to OBRS, 32,860 companies had successfully listed through the system as of January 22, totalling a registered capital of $9.8 billion. Of these, women-owned businesses accounted for 37.73%. 

OBRS noted that an additional 18,001 other ventures have applied for licensing, along with three applications that were rejected.

According to the service, registered capital was predominantly in building construction ($1.13 billion, or 11.51%), followed by real estate activities ($1.02 billion, 10.45%). 

Other significant sectors included accommodation services ($1 billion, 10.22%), management consulting ($607 million, 6.07%), manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur ($520 million, 5.31%) and “others” ($5.53 billion, or 56.44%%).

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, highlighted the impact of legal restrictions by authorities and the increasing awareness among business owners of their obligations. 

He told The Post on January 24 that more business owners are registering to legitimise their businesses, noting that licensing brings numerous benefits and instils confidence in the general population.

“Registration is very positive for both the government and the private sector, especially as it gives confidence to all customers in terms of quality, price and professionalism,” he said. 

Heng pointed out that in developed countries, all businesses are registered, which aids the government in managing the number and type of ventures, facilitating tax management and other subsidies.

Chhin Ken, president of the Cambodia Digital Tech Association (CDTA), said the enhancement of the business law system, simplification of the registration process and business owners’ knowledge of IT are factors driving more companies to list. 

He said enterprises recognised by the government enhance transparent competition.

“Once all 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.

During the launch ceremony of the National Strategy for Informal Economic Development 2023-28, held last October, Prime Minister Hun Manet emphasised the critical role of entrepreneurs in the national economy.

At the event, he urged business owners to register with authorities to facilitate government support and timely solutions in case of issues.

Manet noted that the government’s policy aims to encourage businesses, not coerce them, to register voluntarily.

He highlighted the importance of understanding the registration process, costs, potential penalties, obligations and benefits. 

“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,” he said.

According to the prime minister, during the transition period, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit from the exemption of penalties and liabilities along with other tax-related incentives. 

He said MSMEs will also have access to financial support and training related to enterprise management.