A watchdog group that took tax collectors to task for overcharging on vehicle registration has now set its sights on marriage certification.
Administrators across the country charge as much as $20 for documents required for marriage, which should officially only cost less than $0.30, San Chey, a project coordinator for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said Thursday.
Earlier this year, the Affiliated Network brought complaints against Finance Ministry tax collectors, leading to a recommendation by the newly formed Anti-Corruption Unit that offenders be demoted and administratively punished.
Speaking at a Phnom Penh gathering to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, San Chey said commune officials were overcharging people in direct contravention to a government subdecree on marriage.
In Cambodia, a person needs a letter to prove he or she is not already married and a letter stating they are permitted to marry. Once married, they receive a certificate. Officials are overcharging for the whole process, San Chey said.
“The people must pay between $10 and $20 to commune officials for marriage certification, while the official price is up to 1,200 riel for the marriage paperwork process,” San Chey said.
Chhoeun Chem, a resident of Phnom Penh's Meanchey district, Stung Meanchey commune, said he was charged $20 for the process just last month.
“If I did not pay, I had no right to marry,” he said. “So I had to pay.”
However, Kim Khem Mony, the Stung Meanchey official in charge of marriage certification, said his staff has never overcharged for the process.
“We charge only 1,200 riel, as stated in the subdecree,” he said. “But people always pay $20 to a broker or middleman to help them with their marriage licenses.”
San Chey advised people to get receipts from the authorities when they are fined or pay for public services. Public officials should not hesitate in providing one, he said.
“This can push for more transparency for income management and can reduce people's illegal payments to prevent a big part of corruption,” he said.