Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs



Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs

Biz execs bemoan kidnapper gangs

A World Bank sponsored business seminar quickly lost its demure and academic tone

when participants were asked what they found were the major problems in doing business

in Cambodia.

Participants at Wednesday's seminar became markedly more animated when they were

given a chance to discuss kidnappings and corruption rather than infrastructure or

economic topics.

The seminar, which was jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the Association of

Cambodian Local Economic Development Agencies (ACLEDA), was designed to elicit feedback

on the preliminary findings of a World Bank survey conducted last October on "Constraints

Affecting Private Business in Cambodia".

The survey sample consisted of 200 businesses from across Cambodia, ranging from

"small" businesses with as few as three employees to "large"

businesses of more than 50 employees.

Many of the survey's preliminary findings regarding the impact of the Kingdom's chronic

infrastructure limitations on business operations were predictable - only 36% of

survey respondents had phone service and 1/3 lacked electrical power.

However discussions on those topics were left behind when the seminar's presenter,

Andrew H.W. Stone, Senior Specialist of Private Enterprise Development for the World

Bank, asked the dozen assorted business people in attendance for their opinions on

the major problems they face in doing business.

"Kidnapping threats," one man said immediately, evoking a murmur of agreement

from fellow participants.

According to a female participant, smaller Khmer businesses were particularly vulnerable

to kidnappings by well organized gangs.

"It's the small firms that have the biggest risks (of kidnapping)," the

woman explained. "They don't have the bodyguards with them everywhere they go."

The woman alleged that kidnapping rings work in collusion with government officials

in the selection of potential kidnap victims.

"Kidnappers have very accurate sources," she said. "They know exactly

how much [victims] have in their bank accounts, so [government officials] must be

involved."

Participants also agreed that the problem of government corruption is worsening rather

than decreasing.

One participant, describing the near-institutionalized practice of paying small bribes

to government officials for processing essential paperwork, said corrupt officials

appeared "hungrier" than in earlier years.

"We're having to pay more than before," the participant complained. "Ten

dollars used to be enough [for most transactions] but now they want more."

The increasing monetary demands from corrupt civil servants were suggested by one

seminar participant as harmful to the international competitiveness of Cambodian

companies.

"That's why the prices [of some goods] in Cambodia are much higher than in Vietnam

or Thailand," she said.

The preliminary findings of the World Bank survey indicate that private business

in Cambodia put little faith in the judicial branch of government interceding to

alleviate their concerns regarding corruption and personal safety.

A survey question asking respondents to rate how "quick, honest, fair and impartial"

they considered the judicial system evoked the responses "never" "seldom"

or "sometimes" from a full 82% of respondents.

Stone stressed that the survey findings divulged during the seminar were strictly

preliminary and deferred any comment until the final version of the survey results

are released later this year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Nearly 2,000 detained for Phnom Penh curfew breach

    Nearly 2,000 people were detained in the capital for violating the curfew imposed by the government and Phnom Penh Municipal Administration. Municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha told The Post on May 16 that people were detained in two phases. In phase one, the government locked down Phnom

  • Jab drive announced for two more Phnom Penh districts

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on May 15 announced a first-dose novel-coronavirus vaccination campaign for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts from May 18-31, and a follow-up second-shot drive from June 1-15. Twenty vaccination sites have been set up in a combined 13 communes across both