WASHINGTON DC - Cambodia must do more to put clear “price tags” on services it intends to charge people for government services and set clear timelines for delivery of those services, if it is to advance its fight against corruption, a leading transparency advocate says.
San Chey, Cambodia representative for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, told “Hello VOA” on Monday that people are tired of paying bribes that are made easy because officials have no set prices for some services and no deadlines.
This allows them to extort more money from people who need something done quickly, or at all. The government has said it plans to make 2013 a year in which it tackles corruption—ahead of a elections to be held in July. San Chey called the campaign “a forward development.” However, he said, “it remains to be seen how effective it is.”
“People are not happy to pay bribes,” San Chey said. “But due to the absence of price tags and clear timelines for the delivery of services, they end up paying officials. If there are those things, officials have no more excuses to extort money.”
Many Cambodians pay bribes for administrative paperwork, such as marriage or birth certificates, as well as other public services. If they fail to pay, the process can be delayed for months or years.
A new anti-corruption law came into effect in 2011, and this has made people “eager to report more on corruption,” San Chey said. However, there are loopholes in the law, and definitions of corruption are unclear, which makes it hard to hold officials accountable, he said. And simply imprisoning them won’t do.
“If the government arrests and put them all in prison, there would have to be three or four additional prisons just to put them all in,” he said.