Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to intensify self-regulatory efforts against corrupt practices to help foster a stronger business environment, NGO Transparency International (TI) Cambodia said yesterday.
At a seminar in Phnom Penh, TI Cambodia executive director Preap Kol told business representatives that while government corruption pressures businesses into paying bribes, companies were also actively engaging in corrupt activities themselves to gain unfair competitive advantages.
“Both of these [corrupt practices] are degrading the business environment in Cambodia. This causes losses to the national budget and is affecting existing companies that comply with the law,” he said.
Kol said companies can help stamp out such behaviour by developing and adhering to a strict set of internal rules.
“With corporate integrity, the entrepreneurs are able to prevent corruption happening within their companies. This will also protect them from having to pay extra fees when seeking public service,” he explained.
Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, said unless SMEs are aware of their obligations under the law, they will not be able to take a stand against corruption.
“Our SMEs still have limited knowledge regarding business procurement and regulations, which is why they tend to get involved in corruption,” Taing Por said.
He added that there should be greater education of SMEs about their obligations, and that officials should ensure greater transparency when it comes to the fees that businesses have to pay.
Khom Monirath, founder of Cubic Real Estate, a firm that helps foreign investors do business here, said yesterday that corruption was a serious deterrent for his clients.
“Investors who are transparent with their financial statements are shocked to receive bills that differ from their actual spending,” he said.
Son Chhay, chief whip of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said that businesses self-regulating would not be as effective as it should be until the government also acts to curb corruption.
“The private sector is not be able to do anything besides paying extra money [to get work done] if officials refuse to get it done within a certain time,” he said.