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Nation third most corrupt

Nation third most corrupt

Corruption Index

  1. Singapore - 1.07
  2. Hong Kong - 1.89
  3. Australia - 2.40
  4. United States - 2.89
  5. Japan - 3.99
  6. South Korea - 4.64
  7. Macau - 5.84
  8. China - 6.16
  9. Taiwan - 6.47
  10. Malaysia - 6.70
  11. Philippines - 7.0
  12. Vietnam - 7.11
  13. India - 7.21
  14. Cambodia - 7.25
  15. Thailand - 7.63
  16. Indonesia - 8.32

Source: Political and Economic Risk

Consultancy

CAMBODIA was ranked less corrupt than Thailand on Wednesday by a Hong Kong-based organisation, counter to the findings of other recent graft surveys, but still came in third from bottom.

The report by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) scores 16 Asian countries based on interviews with 1,700 expatriate business leaders.

It ranked Singapore and Hong Kong as the Asian region's least corrupt countries, with Indonesia and Thailand at the bottom, below Cambodia.

The organisation was not available for comment Wednesday.

Local business leaders welcomed the report's findings, saying it corresponded to the oft-overlooked reality on the ground.

"I have always maintained that Cambodia isn't as bad as it is made out to be," said John Brinsden, vice chairman for ACLEDA Bank and a spokesman for the International Business Club of Cambodia.

"I've been to a number of countries where I've seen corruption at a worse scale than in Cambodia. It's nice to see Cambodia isn't at the bottom of this report," he told the Post Wednesday.

He cautioned that corruption remains an issue for businesses in Cambodia, but said other problems were more serious.

"Probably the biggest problem in Cambodia, from a business perspective, is [the lack of] availability of cheap electricity and poor enforcement of laws, as well as infrastructure. Corruption is not the top of the list," he said.

[corruption] is an issue that many investors seem to find a way to work around.

According to the head of Cambodia's largest investment fund, corruption has not prevented Cambodia from being a favourable environment to do business.
"[Corruption] is an issue that many investors seem to find a way to work around," said Douglas Clayton, managing partner of Leopard Capital.

"And when we compare the expenditure on the airport in Thailand and the airport in Cambodia versus the final product delivered, you can draw your own conclusions," he said.

Conflicting reports

Despite such consensus within the private sector, other surveys suggest that corruption is the No 1 concern of businesses in Cambodia.

The World Bank annual report released in January said that more than 50 percent of businesses cited corruption as a top complaint, followed by macroeconomic stability and anticompetitive informal practices.

"Corruption remains widespread, in its many forms.... The perception of corruption is high, even compared to countries at the same level of development," said the report.

The report also said that poor governance in Cambodia is a major problem.

"There are multiple facets of corruption: (i) at the service delivery (ii) in public procurement (both small and large contracts); and (iii) in gaining favour for policy decisions," the report states.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International also issued a harsh assessment of Cambodia's level of corruption, putting the country at 166 out of 181 countries.

Thailand was ranked 80 and Indonesia 126 by the same organisation in its report last year.

"It depends on how they measure [corruption]," said Kevin Britten, managing director of The Secretary.

"I have always been disappointed in my business dealings with Thailand.

"But I think I am quite typical in saying that I have had good experiences in Cambodia."

The PERC system rated countries from zero to 10, with zero as the least corrupt and 10 as the most corrupt. Indonesia earned a score of 8.32, Thailand 7.63 and Cambodia 7.25.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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