The Ministry of Economy and Finance introduced two packages of emergency measures to safeguard the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector from the economic onslaught caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to a press release outlining the results of the SME Action Policy Committee’s first meeting, released on Tuesday.

The first package, implemented in the immediate term, will centre on slashing red tape and facilitating compliance for SMEs.

It also comprises feasibility work to explore support services for SMEs such as business and legal consulting, registration, accounting, marketing, technical and financial relief through Cambodian SME Bank and the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB).

The second package, implemented in the short and medium-term, will focus on ecological support and comprises, inter alia, extended regulatory and implementation framework reforms, business support services, additional financial support, human resource development, research and development solutions, and entrepreneurial mindset resources.

Ministry secretary of state Phan Phalla told the meeting that challenges in the SME sector stem from the established structural and ecological systems.

“Most notable is the burden of compliance with the inconsistent implementation of regulations between relevant ministries and institutions. Their provision of business support services remains limited.

“SMEs’ abilities to manage technical issues, production, business and finance are still low, and a wide gap remains in the access to finance,” Phalla said.

Minister Aun Pornmoniroth said the barriers facing SMEs must be systematically removed through inter-ministerial and inter-institutional action.

He said this will lift the weight off their shoulders, unlock their potential and enable them to become productive engines of economic growth, job creation and concrete income for the people.

SMEs will be able to fulfil domestic demand and enhance the Kingdom’s economic potential, he said.

“To ensure the effectiveness of the implementation, it is necessary to keep analysing, specifically, the definition, scope and turnover of SMEs and the possibility to financially support them, prepare the relevant legal documents, create applicable indicators and monitor inter-sectoral and institutional implementation,” Pornmoniroth said.

The government in April launched the SME Bank with a $150 million capital investment to provide low-interest loans to the sector.

It has also disbursed $50 million in financing through the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) to support SMEs in the agro-industrial sector.

Source: Phnom Penh Post