T HE Council of Ministers has approved a new Chamber of Commerce which is to cut down on the amount of graft ministries can extract from business, according to an adviser to the Commerce Ministry Sok Dy Van Than.
Than, the drafter of the project to create the Chamber, said: "Now, every commercial activity is registered to the ministry whose jurisdiction it is deemed to fall under.
"This creates problems of responsibility between all these political powers.
"The Chamber is supposed to centralize all commercial activities by registering each business enterprise in the country.
"Businesses will no longer have to register with other ministries. The most important goal is thus to avoid corruption."
Than said it would cost $2 million to find and furnish an establishment for the Chamber, which would have a staff of 85 and a budget of $85,000 for salaries.
But he said Cambodia had no money to fund the project and thus he is looking for overseas backers.
Than expressed optimism that The Chamber of Commerce of Versailles (France) and New York giant holding company CIPE would fund the project, and he hoped the Chamber would begin its activities in four to five months.
"The Chamber will have five departments: one general department, one for registration, one in charge of promoting Cambodian companies, one for international relationships and the last will take care of the accounting," Than said.
He added: "As long as one organization knows everything about commercial activities in Cambodia it will be able to foster the economy,"
"For example, .. the Chamber can survey to ensure some businesses don't hold an unfair monopoly. This will ensure competition which is the key for development... "
Than said the Chamber, which will be run by the Commerce Ministry, had bi-partisan support.
He said: "The most relevant proof is that Sam Rainsy, [Func-inpec Minister of Finance], accepted the project which emanated from [Commerce Minister] Var Huoth, [CPP]."
When interviewed by phone Sam Rainsy told the Post: "As long as it enhances the disappearing of corruption I do agree with such a project."
Than said: "The other sensitive point is that the Chamber plans to adopt the French accounting system. The CPP wants to use the Anglo-Saxon accounting system whereas the Funcinpec wants the French one."