The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has issued a set of guidelines on September 20 to its officers, including contract staff, to carry out public service provisions responsibly and strictly adhere to administrative working hours in order to strengthen its effectiveness.

At main border checkpoints, where export and import activities occur, there must be 24-hour shifts to perform day and night duties, the GDCD stated, reminding officers that they should act in a dignified and friendly manner, and avoid “immoral words and actions”.

Officers are required to collect public service fees in accordance with the GDCE’s regulations and are prohibited from using their position to collect “informal fees”.

The GDCE, a state unit under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, urged officers to comply with the department’s internal regulations and code of conduct.

In addition, officers need to regularly monitor the public service activities of every staff member. “In the event any officer or staff contract exhibits inappropriate behaviour while on duty, immediate guidance must be offered. If no further improvement is shown, the person must be reported to the GDCE for disciplinary action,” the department said in a statement.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Hong Vanak told The Post that strengthening governance, law enforcement and providing responsible and ethical services “is what everyone wants”.

In the past, Vanak said, he had come across “many complaints from taxpayers”. Providing professional and ethical public service would encourage taxpayers to declare their taxes as required by law.

“Demanding overdue fees set by law is also an issue that requires attention and must be eliminated. Implementing customs duties in accordance with the law would help the government to collect more revenue. Revenue from customs duties is an important source of government funding for the country’s development,” he said.

In the first quarter of 2023, the GDCE collected 2.3 trillion riel (approximately $564.1 million), a decrease of 5.2 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2022. This accounted for 20.5 per cent of the target set by the 2023 Law on Financial Management. Of the amount, value-added tax (VAT) came up to 949.8 billion riel or 41.2 per cent of the total revenue, special tax - 752.2 billion riel (32.7 per cent), customs duty - 459.5 billion riel (20 per cent), VAT on petroleum products - 87.6 billion riel (3.8 per cent) and export tax and other fees - 53.8 billion riel (2.3 percent).

In 2022, the GDCE collected a total tax revenue of 11 trillion riel (about $2.7 billion), an increase of 18.3 per cent year-on-year.