Saturday, June 07, 2008

Almost Three in Four Cambodians have paid a bribe in 2007

And 20 to 30 per cent of Cambodia's land is owned by 1% of the population (!) From

Also, a 2007 survey conducted by Transparency International, 72 percent of Cambodians reported paying a bribe to receive a public service. This percentage is the highest in the Asia-Pacific region and second only to Cameroon (79 percent) internationally.

I wonder if this includes the parents who send their kids to school. Cambodian children who attend state schools have to pay 500 to 1000 (USD0.25) riels everyday to their teacher, ostensibly for extra tuition classes. And no wonder, considering teachers here earn a pitiful USD50 a month (less in the provinces).

More information about Cambodia's corruption can be found in this UPI Asia article by Lao Mong Hay, a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong who was previously director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I was interested in the topic after reading about Cambodian activists who submitted an anti-corruption petition with over one million signatures to parliament in May.

Cambodia is ranked 162 out of 179 countries in Transparency International's 2007 corruption index--an appalling statistic, considering Zimbabwe ranked 150.

From the UPI Asia article: "Another survey conducted two years later by the Economic Institute of Cambodia in Phnom Penh showed that in 2005 the private sector paid “unofficial fees”—that is, bribes – to public officials amounting to US$330 million, an amount it said was “2.5 times higher than that of official payment” and “represented also about 50 percent of the total government budget revenue in 2005.”

In 2006, the World Bank suspended contracts with Cambodia after finding evidence of corruption and fraud in 43 contracts. But this was reinstated In 2007, apparently the World Bank was happy with the good governance framework the Cambodian government came up with.

Privatisation has made things worse. Fully or partially privatised sectors include transportation, health care, education, bank but also agricultural public companies such as the rubber plantations, the fertilizer company, fish export company. "The process of privatisation has resulted in many of the state-owned companies, as well as much land concessions, being awarded to high-level politicians and their cronies. In fact 20 to 30% of Cambodia's land is owned by 1% of the population.

"Cambodia is a cash-based economy, which also makes corruption easier. Many business transactions are made in cash. Only 1% of working capital comes from the commercial banks."

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