CUSTOM tax revenues at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint fell by almost half in 2009 compared with a year earlier amid fallout from the global economic crisis, a reduction on duties on some products and political tension with Thailand.
Revenues fell 48.81 percent to US$40 million in 2009, down from $79 million in 2008, the checkpoint’s Chief Customs and Excise Officer Chuop En said.
“Imports of general goods has fallen a lot because of the influence of the global economic crisis and the Cambodian-Thai conflict,” he said.
A reduction in duties on cement imports from 15 percent to 5 percent in 2009 also contributed to the checkpoint meeting just 80 percent of its revenue target for the year, Chuop En said.
The setback came after the they exceeded targets in 2008, he added.
Cement imports through the border declined from 444,073 tonnes in 2008 to 385,385 tonnes last year as construction activity in the Kingdom fell significantly, their figures showed.
Imports of motorbikes fell 62 percent over the period from 196,241 in 2008 to just 74,313.
Chuop En said trade in the two goods were key indicators of the health of the local and regional economy.
Tim Daro, chief of police at the checkpoint, said about 5,000 Cambodian people crossed the border into Thailand every day to work or trade in goods. He said the political conflict with Thailand had had no impact on their activities.
“There is still good relations between Cambodian and Thai people in their business,” he said.
However, Sok Poy, a 38-year-old taxi driver at the border, said there were fewer customers since the Cambodia-Thai dispute. “Last year  I could earn 40,000 riels per day, but this year I earned only 20,000 riels per day,” he said, “Customers are very scarce now. It is not like before.”
According to a local trader who has made a living from importing goods into Cambodia from Thailand since 1983, as economic conditions worsened, border officials were requiring more informal payments, asking for 20,000 riels ($4.80) per cart of goods imported.
Seung Ny said her profits had decreased from around 60,000 riels per day to between 30,000 and 40,000, making it harder to afford the informal charges. She also needed to pay police and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials to verify the health of imported animals, she added.