Monday, October 30, 2006

Business licence

It’s been really hot these past couple of weeks and the heat is getting to me. We have been trying to cut down on the use of aircon because it is costly, but I find it almost impossible to sleep in this heat. Saveth tells me the weather in Phnom Penh is changing—November used to be cool he says.

It is former king Sihanouk’s birthday tomorrow, which is a public holiday and yesterday we saw fireworks from our roof terrace. What a nice treat! The big holiday is in a week’s time—the Water Festival, when a million people from the provinces troop down to Phnom Penh to watch the boat race at the river, in front of the Royal Palace. The teams come from different provinces all over Cambodia to race once a year. I want to go but fear the crowds. You can also stay home and watch the race ‘live’ on Cambodian TV. But as it is my first time, I think I will brave the crowds and take photos for everyone.

Time is passing swiftly by and I am afraid I won’t make my November deadline. I will have to pay for a business licence, given by the local sangkat (police). The official in charge of small businesses for my area has been to the house twice. He is very keen for my business. I had asked a trustworthy Cambodian friend to speak to the sangkat about my plans for a business. The official first quoted USD300 for the licence, which is way overpriced (the usual is between USD100-USD200). He claimed it was “fixed price” when my friend tried to negotiate. However, another friend with experience managed to bring the price down to USD230. The sangkat also said that if a Khmer person were to sign the lease for the house on my behalf, the price is only USD180. To be fair to the sangkat, he said I had to pay up only if I wanted to have a sign for the shop. Otherwise, he will allow me to operate for free, without a licence for 6-9 months, in the name of research.

If you are planning to rent a house in Cambodia, make sure your landlord informs the sangkat and signs an agreement with them. Every time a house is rented, the landlord has to contribute money to the sangkat. My Cambodian friend tells me the sangkat gets very little money from the government so this is their way of getting income for their policing activities.

Apart from the business licence fee, I will also have to pay income tax which should be about USD10 a month (I have no idea how they work this out). The other big licence is the one for exporting goods, but as I am not sure how much I will sell, I am not applying for this yet. I am sure there are other “taxes” which I will have to pay for later on.

So the things I need to get done soon are

1. Pay for business licence.
2. Design and make signboard
3. Work with tour agents
4. Advertise

To save money, we made the decision not to have a guard. As a result, I have moved the sewing machines indoors from the car port. The women now sew in a room on the ground floor. It will be more comfortable for them and on Friday I got everyone involved in the move, because I wanted them to feel comfortable with the new arrangement.

However, we hired a live-in housekeeper today who will start tomorrow. She is a widow from a province that Esther recommended to us. She has a daughter working in a garment factory. Her priority was finding a place to stay and we thought why not let her live with us? It’s the first time Alan and I will have had a stranger living with us so this should be interesting.

2 comments:

Stu and Jo said...

Hello,
I met you at the water festival. I think what you are doing is really great. I noticed you are looking for a sign board. I would love to help you make if you are interested. I have a degree in Fine Arts. I have painted large scale public murals. I would do it for free because I want to help. Anyway, drop me a line if you are interested. jolene.erhardt@hotmail.com
Take care!
Jolene

Diana Saw said...

Dear Jo,

Hey, great to hear from you and thanks so much for the offer of help! I'm sure my team would be really excited with a painting for the shop. Thanks also for dropping by Bloom the very next day to buy a bag!
The Water Festival was really amazing, wasn't it? I'll be uploading pics soon. (I've also sent you an email).

I hope you still have that blue princess tiara with pom-poms (who would've thought you could buy such a thing in Cambodia?!) The tiara was the reason I talked to you in the first place!

Cheers,
Diana

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