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SMEs association says it’s fed up with government inaction

Employees work on a production line on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Employees work on a production line on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

SMEs association says it’s fed up with government inaction

The Federation of Association for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec) slammed the government yesterday in a meeting with the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, claiming that the government has been ineffective in finding solutions to help domestic companies.

Te Taing Por, president of Fasmec, said that it had put forth 23 challenges that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face six months ago, with almost all of them having “unacceptably” gone unanswered by the government.

“We were asked to raise the challenges and there has been no solution,” he said. “What is the solution? We hold these meetings and the government just reads out the solutions without asking Fasmec whether we accept them or not.”

“So there is no solution, and we are not satisfied with that,” he added.

Some of the 23 challenges raised by Fasmec include requesting that the government stops the spread of counterfeit products, opens up export channels, reduces taxes on SMEs, helps with the lack of financing and speeds up quality control procedures.

Kim Touch, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, attempted to deflect criticism raised by Fasmec during the heated debate, claiming consumer habits had to change to support domestic companies.

“We have to change the habits of our consumers to support domestic products, and consumers also have to trust their quality,” he said.

“We have to set up a policy to protect logos and trademarks as well as packaging in order to advertise the domestic products to the public.”

However, he said the Ministry of Industry could not alone solve all the complaints raised by Fasmec, citing the often overlapping bureaucratic hurdles between different ministries.

“All the challenges raised are also related with other ministries, so we need to hear from them before we try to solve the problems and this takes time for our procedures to work,” he said.

Meav Soktry, secretary general of Cambodia Swiftlet Federation, an organistion that promotes the exports of bird’s nests, claimed that Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture have dragged their feet in helping promote market access.

“The government always says that they will find a solution,” he said. “But when we ask them, they only respond with sorry, we are still working on it.”

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