A total of 24,466 companies, with cumulative “registered share capital” of $7.42 billion, were approved by the six first-phase agencies and successfully registered on the Online Business Registration Platform – also known as the “Single Portal” – in its 1,044 days of existence as of April 24 at 2pm, according to the Online Business Registration Service (“OBRS”).

This marks an 18 per cent rise from the 20,693 firms, and a 28 per cent jump from the $5.81 billion in total registered share capital announced by the OBRS – a unit under the Ministry of Economy and Finance – for January 2 at 2pm, just 112 days earlier.

The government launched the platform on June 15, 2020 to streamline the registration process for companies. 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).

As of April 24, a total of 14,597 companies had at some point successfully made reservations with the six first-phase agencies to complete the registration process at a later date. Although no registration applications had been rejected as of then, two reservation requests have been declined.

Breaking down the April 24 figure for registered share capital by business activities, “building construction” accounted for the lion’s share at $1.05 billion or “15 per cent” – likely a rounding error, since $1.05 billion would give a percentage in the range of 14.07-14.23 per cent. Similarly, a 15 per cent share would place the value in the range of $1.075-1.151 billion.

This was followed by “real estate activities involving the use of one’s own, or leased properties” ($893 million; 12%), “management consulting” ($751 million; 10%), “manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur apparel” ($356 million; 5%), and “financial intermediation” ($331 million; 4%). “Others” represented $4.04 billion or 54 per cent of the total.

Of note, the OBRS had put the “financial intermediation” value as of March 6 at $332 million, higher than the latest figure of $331 million – in all likelihood another rounding oversight.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on April 27 that the Single Portal registration system has made things much easier for business owners, reducing time wasted and informal costs tied to the process.

The ease of registration not only encourages owners to take action and ensure that their businesses comply with legal requirements, but also boosts effectiveness in relevant management activities among authorities, he claimed.

A clearer picture of the numbers and types of businesses active in Cambodia can guide the government in developing support policies and collecting taxes, he stressed.

Recent reports indicate that businesses operating in the Kingdom have been on a constant uptrend overall, he commented, putting this down to the whole slew of incentives provided by the new Law on Investment, preferential tariff treatment from major markets, a broad range of export destinations for Cambodian products, the Single Portal, among others.

“Economic growth and legal facilitation by the government will help spur more companies and businesses in Cambodia on, and the number of registrations will keep growing,” Heng said.

In a late-January interview with The Post, Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, had similarly argued that the Single Portal’s relatively simple procedures, coupled with transparent law enforcement, would encourage more business owners to register.

Vanak remarked that proper registration aids the government in collecting taxes and adapting to changing business organisation and operations, as well as formulating targeted policies to support specific types of businesses.

He underscored that ensuring that business operations are lawful makes it that much easier for the government to attract foreign investment.

“Registration helps to make competition more transparent and fairer – businesses of similar type and size will also be bound by similar tax and legal obligations,” he added.

Speaking at the launch in June 2020, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth underscored that the Single Portal is part of the government’s “proactive” reform efforts, and was established on three principles: reducing unnecessary procedures, reducing costs, and reducing review times.

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