Minister Details Online Business Registration Plans to Parliament

Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol told parliament Monday of plans to overhaul the current system of registering a business in Cambodia, an often slow and corrupt process, by moving the entire system online, where registration will open on December 7.

The World Bank currently ranks Cambodia 184 out of 189 countries on the ease of “starting a business,” a ranking deemed “unacceptable” by Mr. Chanthol Monday during a discussion in parliament on investment and trade in the country.

“We are not happy with the score. That’s why the Royal Government has to work very hard to review the registration [process], like going to look at the business registration system in Singapore, which stands at No. 2 in the world, and New Zealand, which stands at No. 1 for business registration,” Mr. Chanthol said.

Mr. Chanthol predicted that reforming the registration process would drastically improve Cambodia’s ranking.

“Our score would improve to 21 from 184, assuming that other countries stay the same,” he said, explaining that the new online process—which has been in the works since May—would reduce the time required to register a business from the current five to seven days to only an hour.

Mr. Chanthol said the reform would also reduce the role of brokers, who currently liaise between government officials and prospective businesses, collecting fees in the process.

Son Chhay, an opposition lawmaker and deputy head of the National Assembly’s finance commission, said that less dependence on brokers, along with plans for higher salaries for civil servants, should curb corruption.

“When the salary is reasonable please, the dirty hands, do not disturb the businesspeople or service delivery to people,” he said.

Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, said that officials would not be able to extort businesspeople after the registry moved online.

“Through the online system, the people don’t go to meet each other, they just send [documents] to each other online.”

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