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Bribes often cost of doing business: survey

More than half of businesses operating in Cambodia have paid a bribe, a recent survey by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) suggests.

The survey is part of CAMFEBA’s Pathways to Prosperity report, which makes several recommendations to improve Cambodia’s business environment. Among the suggestions are offering skills training, passing a new trade union law and reducing bureaucratic hurdles.

CAMFEBA found that 58 per cent of the 300 businesses interviewed had never refused to pay a bribe, while a third of firms took no action when encountering “corrupt and unethical practices in the regulatory and legal environment”.

The responses came from across industries, including ICT, agro-processing and the garment sector.

And for those that did not line the pockets of government officials, the wheels stopped turning. Seventy per cent reported receiving a delay in service after refusing to pay a bribe.

Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit has had little impact, CAMFEBA says, due to fears from both public and private sectors about the disclosure of corruption.

“CAMFEBA recognizes the role of the private sector in improving governance, but recognizes the risk to individuals of taking action in the absence of legal protections for whistleblowers.”

The group will discuss the report in more detail today in connection with findings by the International Labour Organization.

Several representatives of CAMFEBA did not return calls or emails seeking comment yesterday.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said tackling the issue cuts both ways and that the private sector should help.

“The government corruption doesn’t help, but the people who make the government corrupted don’t help.”

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