The government refuses to be held to an anti-corruption law that complies with UN
conventions but the donor community remains unconcerned.
The passing of the anti-corruption law was one of the key benchmarks on the table
at the donor-government Consultative Group (CG) meeting on December 6 and 7 last
year, where $504 million of aid was pledged for 2005.
The Post only obtained the CG benchmarks on January 27, after repeated requests to
the World Bank, UN and government.
At the CG meeting donors warned that future aid hinged on the government making good
on its promises for reform and development.
The anti-corruption law has been a sticking point because the government will only
agree to legislation that complies with "international best practice",
but not specifically with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
"They [the government] agreed that it should be according to some international
best practice but they didn't want to agree that it should be in line with the UN
convention without having read it," said Nisha Agrawal, country manager of the
World Bank in Cambodia.
The words "pending agreement on wording" were added to the benchmark during
the CG meeting and the two parties have not met to discuss the issue since then.
It was hoped that outstanding issues from the CG would be resolved by December, said
Agrawal, but with many people away over the holiday period, there had been no progress.
"We are not negotiating anything - I mean this was the outcome of the CG and
it was agreed then that everyone would go and do their work and we would have the
next meeting [on March 7]," said Agrawal.
"What is very important is that they do [the anti-corruption law] according
to international best practice and that is agreed on - that to me is the main thing,"
But the opposition Sam Rainsy Party said the anti-corruption law should comply with
the UN-recognized levels.
"The anti-coruption law should be in compliance with the United Nation convention
for anti-corruption," said Ung Bun Ang, spokesman for the opposition.
"We would like Cambodia to have at least that kind of standard," said Bun
The passing of an anti-corruption law was one of three indicators that the government
was fighting corruption and increasing accountability.
Also included was the need to bring reported cases of graft before the courts and
to start preparation work on a freedom of information mechanism to allow the people
to access to information held by public authorities.
The other benchmarks set for 2005 are a mix of new requirements and those not met
in previous years, including the passing of many laws, the phasing out of donor-provided
salary supplements for civil servants, and the full disclosure of controversial land