Anticorruption Draft Law Approved, Finally

≈After years of anticipation, the Council of Ministers on Friday finally approved the draft law on corruption and will now send it to the National Assembly for ratification, according to a statement released by the Council.

The final draft of the law consists of nine chapters and 57 articles— shorter than previous versions—and was approved during the weekly cabinet meeting attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The cabinet meeting has seen to it that combating corruption is part of the government’s reform program of the state for good governance,” the Council said in its statement.

According to the statement, after the approval of the draft law, Mr Hun Sen said that the former RCAF Supreme Command Head­quarters on Norodom Boulevard would be used as a possible location for a “national anticorruption body.”

The statement also said that the law in itself will not be enough to end corruption. The government needs to focus on corruption awareness, the proper enforcement of the law and public support, the statement said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the draft law would be sent to the National Assembly in about a week, where some minor changes will be made to the law’s language, but not its content.

“The law is very important to educate people and have a culture that prevents corruption,” he said.

He added that under the new law, all civil servants would be obliged to declare their financial assets to the government every two years.

Several NGO workers who had participated in the drafting of the law said they had not seen the final draft that was passed by the Council of Ministers on Friday. However, they all welcomed the government’s decision to approve the draft law, whatever its shape and form.

“We are proud that the Council of Ministers has passed the law as a positive step to fight against corruption,” said Yang Kim Eng, executive director of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, which is a member of the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, an anticorruption advocacy group.

In an April report released by the International Finance Cooperation and The Asia Foundation, 75 percent of businesses responding to a survey of 1,234 business owners said that they even paid bribes to the tax authority in order to pay their taxes.

The report, entitled “The Pro­vincial Business Environment Scorecard in Cambodia,” also reported that businesses considered corruption a major obstacle.

“The draft of the anti-corruption law… will become a vital legal instrument to determine the mechanism of anticorruption, penalties and other legal processes of cracking down corruption,” the statement said.

(Additional reporting by Simon Marks)


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