Cambodia's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) held its first consultation meeting with the private sector on Friday over a proposed new anti-corruption guidebook, encouraging firms to police themselves in the absence of any official regulation.
According to Om Yentieng, head of the ACU, the new Guide on Anti Corruption Programs for the Private Sector will help companies strengthen regulatory efforts and policing of corrupt and informal business practices.
Yengtieng said that without any overarching government regulatory measures in place, it is up to the companies themselves to be the authority on the issue within their own organisations.
“The private sector is an important partner with the government on Cambodia’s economic development. They are also a key player in fighting the problem because they are also victims of corruption and will be so as long as it remains an issue in our society,” Yengtieng said.
“I believe all the companies here hate corruption. They incur loss from it and do want free and fair competition.”
Friday’s meeting was the first of a series of private sector consultation sessions the ACU will hold prior to finalising the guidebook, which is expected by the end of this year.
The ACU head stressed that the development of the new guidelines is not meant to presume or imply that private sector officials are involved in bribing government officials.
“But ACU is trying to create a tool to protect them from being in a vulnerable position to any informal fees demanded from people in higher powers,” he added.
In Channy, president and CEO of Cambodia’s largest private financial institution, Acleda Bank, said the ACU’s proposed guidelines could help tclean up public service operations where under-the-table cash payments are a problem.
“Corruption is considered a huge risk for businesspeople as the cost of it – additional time and money – cannot be estimated accurately,” Channy told the Post.
“Eliminating corruption also means reducing risk of doing business in Cambodia.”
The Kingdom ranked 160th out of 177 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2013, released in December, making the country the most corrupt in ASEAN, and second only to North Korea in all of East Asia.
Srey Chanthy, independent economy analyst jointly welcomed the ACU’s initiative, however said implementing such loosely enforced guidelines across the entire private sector is unlikely.
“Corruption makes investors hesitate to come to Cambodia. These guidelines will at least help encourage them to come to Cambodia,” Chanthy said.
“But we need strict monitoring by the ACU to find how much of the private industry actually implements the measures that are eventually set in the guidelines.”