Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fund scandal not enough to deter donors




Fund scandal not enough to deter donors

Fund scandal not enough to deter donors

While key foreign donors to Cambodia have said that government officials implicated in an internal Global Fund probe that exposed bribe-taking in the Ministry of Health must be investigated and brought to justice, a toughening of aid conditions does not appear to be a step any are willing to take.

In largely identical statements to the Post, the EU delegation and the Swedish, German and British embassies backed the Global Fund’s strong stance against corruption but did not respond to whether their own oversight procedures for development assistance to Cambodia had been strengthened since the report’s findings emerged.

“The amounts misused must be recovered, the individuals brought to justice, and the companies sanctioned if they are found to have breached the strict supplier code of conduct of the Global Fund,” they said.

The Anti-Corruption Unit has said it is investigating the report’s findings – which exposed a network of kickbacks and sponsorships from mosquito-net suppliers in exchange for contracts – but has yet to determine whether former officials at the National Malaria Center (CNM), the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS) and MEDiCAM are guilty of corruption.

US embassy spokesman John Simmons said the US government was keeping an eye on the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

“The US government is monitoring the actions of the Anti-Corruption Unit, and we continue to encourage the ACU to conduct a full and transparent investigation,” he said. “The US government is ever-mindful of the potential for misuse of development assistance funds, no matter to which country provided.”

He emphasised that most US-supported programs in Cambodia were implemented by civil society and the private sector.

Germany, the Global Fund’s third-biggest bilateral donor, warned that “donor confidence and motivation depend on cooperation free of corruption and fraud”.

“The determination of the Royal Government of Cambodia in pursuing this matter will no doubt be an important signal for the donor community,” German ambassador Joachim Baron von Marschall said.

French embassy first secretary Nicolas Baudouin said that France would continue to “monitor the situation closely”.

All foreign donors that responded to the Post pledged continued support of the Global Fund, and praised its efforts to bolster financial oversight.

Since preliminary investigation findings emerged in July last year, the Fund replaced the CNM as a principal recipient for malaria grants, appointed an external fiduciary agent to control NCHADS expenditure and has required pooled procurement for all health products in Cambodia.

The Asian Development Bank, Cambodia’s current lead donor partner, expects to provide more than $500 million in loans and grants to the government between 2013 and 2015.

“ADB applies very stringent safeguards to ensure all funds administered by ADB are used for their intended purposes,” country director Eric Sidgwick said.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.