The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft will introduce an online registration platform for Cambodia’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) this year, a ministry official confirmed yesterday.
Heng Sok Kong, secretary of state at the ministry, said the new software for web registration was built in partnership with the International Finance Corporation. A three-month pilot project to teach businesses how to use it will commence later this year.
“The pilot project for the online registration will operate in regions like Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, where more people can access computers.”
Sok Kong said SMEs with start-up capital of $3,000 or more would be able to register using the new process, which will take businesses just two to three days to complete.
“If people go to the ministry instead, starting from handing documents from the ground level, it usually takes 10 to 15 days to finish the whole process,” he said.
“The online registration can reduce corruption, as the process is operated through internet banking. There will be more transparency.”
According to a 2011 government survey, only about 3.5 per cent of the 505,000 SMEs in Cambodia were registered with the government.
The IFC could not be reached for comment yesterday, but a 2010 report from the World Bank’s investment arm highlighted the importance of legal protection and fee transparency – two things missing for Cambodia’s thousands of unregistered SMEs.
“While some SMEs are registered and comply with the law, others providing the same products and services are not complying with the law, and enjoy unfair advantages and cost structures,” the IFC report found, calling for a streamlining of the process.
Sok Kong said online registration was one of many reforms being introduced for SMEs, to ensure they were competitive with ASEAN economic integration looming in 2015.
Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Association for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, welcomed the new system as a means of cutting through bureaucracy.
“In the past, SMEs needed to register with all relevant ministries with different prices, and the processing time was very long,“ he said.
“It is necessary to have the online registration to keep in line with globalisation.”
However, Por added, not all SME operators in the Kingdom are internet savvy, and thus the process may take some time for local businesses to adapt to.
According to Sok Kong, the fee for online registration has yet to be confirmed, but traditionally registration fees have varied depending on a company’s start-up capital, with the smallest businesses having to pay $13 to register.