US Ambassador Carol Rodley said Thursday that Cambodia’s ongoing corruption prevents the country from moving forward and is scaring off foreign investors.
The ambassador spoke at a national seminar in Phnom Penh aimed at bolstering civic engagement in development and tackling corruption.
“It prevents countries like Cambodia from fully realizing their potential,” Rodley said in opening remarks. Corruption undermines good governance and “hinders economic and social development,” she said.
“It erodes the confidence that citizens have in their government and in the rule of law,” she said.
Rodley said corruption, which costs the government an estimated $500 million a year, drains money from public coffers and “often makes international businesses think twice” before investing.
“The government of Cambodia acknowledges this,” said Keo Remy, a spokesman for the Anti-Corruption Unit, a government body tasked with fighting graft under a 2010 law that donors had sought for years.
The government is undertaking an education campaign across the country to curb the practice, he said.
However, Hang Chhaya, a member of Transparency Cambodia, said the fight against corruption was taking place with little information available publicly.
“We want to see transparency in the fight against corruption,” he said.
Australian Ambassador Penny Richards said the battle against corruption was not the government’s alone. It also takes a “strong coalition” of civic groups, she said.