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Gov’t restricts imports of wine, cigarettes

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A man smokes a cigarette in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t restricts imports of wine, cigarettes

The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Customs and Excise is planning to temporarily restrict wine and cigarette imports at some border checkpoints to prevent tax evasion and improve tax collection.

A letter signed by director-general Kun Nhem on Monday advised heads of branches and Customs offices across the Kingdom to temporarily close checkpoints to follow the government’s tax collection strategy. The restriction will take effect on November 1.

The letter said wine containing an alcohol content of more than 10 per cent and all kinds of cigarettes will only be allowed to be imported via the Preah Sihanouk international port, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) and the Phnom Penh International Airport.

“The import of the goods via other border checkpoints must be allowed in advance by the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.

“Therefore, Customs office heads must comply with the letter more effectively starting November 1 until further notice,” the letter read.

Mom Kong, the executive director of NGO Cambodia Movement for Health, said measures taken by the general department served to encourage more effective tax collection. Forty per cent of cigarette products being sold in the market are duty-free, he said.

“Levying a low tax on these products can promote consumption among the public. Citizens can encounter difficulties with diseases after they use the products.

“The State also has low tax income that affects the economy. It needs higher tax income to shore up the economic sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

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