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ACU guidelines short on details

A man walks past the Anti-Corruption Unit office yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh. The ACU last week released a book aimed at educating businesses on the implementation of systems to combat corruption.
A man walks past the Anti-Corruption Unit office yesterday afternoon in Phnom Penh. The ACU last week released a book aimed at educating businesses on the implementation of systems to combat corruption. Pha Lina

ACU guidelines short on details

Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit launched a guidebook for businesses last week to create internal systems to prevent corrupt practices, but certain stakeholders say it doesn’t detail how to create these systems or even address systemic or bureaucratic corruption.

The new guidebook, which the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) created in collaboration with the private sector, focuses on identifying possible avenues of corruption and creating internal systems to prevent corrupt acts, but does not give any specific details on how to achieve this, save a few case studies.

With risk assessment, the book suggests interviewing employees to pinpoint where they may be tempted to indulge in, or asked by government officials to conduct corrupt practices.

After this assessment, the book suggests the creation of a public anti-corruption policy and an environment of dialogue with employees to maintain compliance.

“The guidebook gives enough information about what corruption is, but it does not mention how businesses can protect themselves from getting involved in corruption,” said Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, yesterday.

Taing Por said asking businesses to adopt regulatory systems to tackle corruption was only half the issue, as corruption in the bureaucracy also needed to be addressed by the ACU.

“The government should continue to simplify and cut down bureaucracy in public institutions, for example business registration or export procedure, so small and medium enterprises can easily process the work without having to pay bribes,” he added.

While the guidebook does list out the challenges for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) it does not spell out specific processes for them to follow.

SMEs in Cambodia have very limited capacity and knowledge regarding regulations, taxing and accounting systems, said Taing Por.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia (TI), said SMEs need to learn to play by the rules and adopt new processes in a changing environment – including the impending ASEAN Economic Community integration.

“Small and medium businesses should start to do businesses with transparency and adapt to clean business as Cambodia is joining with ASEAN economic integration soon.

They should start learning about regulations and standards now. They cannot stay traditional,” Kol said.

The guidebook starts off with a message from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who calls on big and small businesses to exhibit a level of commitment and collective effort to create a compliant business framework.

“Such participation is nothing but conducting business with fundamental business values and ethics, including transparency, accountability, respect for level playing field, social responsibility and law and regulation compliance,” the message from Hun Sen read.

The ACU has also been working with private companies to sign memorandums of understanding and at last count had around 10 companies pledging not to tolerate unofficial business practices, including Coca Cola, garment manufacturer Pactics and rice miller Loran Group.

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