A new business integrity report from Transparency International Cambodia shows public sector bodies largely failing to promote transparency with regards to bribery, corruption and public disclosure, with businesses faring only a little better on corporate governance norms.
The report, called the Business Integrity Country Agenda and released yesterday by the accountability group, shows that the Kingdom was not lacking in laws to deal with business issues, but rather that government agencies did not uniformly implement them – especially in tackling money laundering and illicit financial flows.
On the private front, multinational firms fared better on corporate compliance and had established clear strategies to tackle corruption, but local companies were largely opaque about their activities and their adoption of existing laws.
The major concern areas were conflicts of interest on company boards, disclosure of anti-corruption programs and operations, and third-party verifications of business practices.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said yesterday that Cambodia needed to try harder to ensure a more transparent business climate, failing which firms would be able to continue nefarious activities. “Without business transparency, there is opportunity for smuggling of goods, which will eventually lose revenue for the government,” he said.
He added there was a need for better understanding between government agencies and private firms to enforce the existing laws, as it would be beneficial to both and attract more investment.
“Lack of business transparency is affecting to investors’ confidence, especially good investors, and it affects the country’s ability to attract good investors,” he added.
He pointed to the automation of the business registration process and improvements in tax collection procedures as positives that needed to be replicated in other business processes.
Reach Ra, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said the findings from the report would help improve business transparency in Cambodia.
“The findings from the report will help to improve on the weaknesses of Cambodia and many businesses that are operating in Cambodia to strengthen their competitive capacity,” he said.