Initiative Launched for Best-Business Certification

Forty local and foreign businesses have endorsed a new initiative launched Monday to create a certification for Cambodian businesses that adhere to best business practices.

The heads of Acleda Bank, Mor­ison Kak and Associates, Hagar Cam­bodia and ANZ Royal Bank launch­ed the Clean Bus­iness In­itiative with Pact Cam­bodia, a USAID-funded NGO that organized the program and will help fund it.

Businesses that endorse the initiative commit to avoiding bribery or selling fake and unsafe products, to operating with fairness and integrity and to promoting reforms to the business environment.

Members who fail to uphold these policies will be stripped of their membership, which ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins call­ed an embarrassing penalty.

“For any business that wants to join, loosing the certification will be damaging to their brand,” said Higgins during the launch Mon­day in Phnom Penh.

He added that the CBI is a way to combat Cambodia’s stigma for cor­ruption and inform international companies of transparent businesses to invest in or partner with.

Hagar CEO Talmage Payne said the CBI initiative will create a network of companies sharing the same business principles s.

“Cambodia should be known as the best place for business, not the riskiest,” Payne said.

CBI members must be audited, have a code of ethics, a customer service policy, an anti-corruption policy and a fraud reduction policy, though Payne said specifics are still being hammered out.

Commerce Minister Cham Pra­sidh endorsed the initiative in a writt­en statement and said it would improve corporate governance.

“Corruption needs to be at­tack­ed, and not just verbally,” Cham Prasidh wrote.

However, the formation of the CBI does not imply the government is falling short of its role to fight corruption, said Acleda Bank President In Channy, a member of the CBI Steering Committee.

Rather, it builds on the government’s efforts to create a clean business environment, In Channy said.

“Enforcement needs to be done by individuals,” he said during the launch.

Led by a nine-member steering committee, the CBI will draft new re­gulations to hone the business en­vironment, collect information from member companies in the ef­fort to uncover areas most in need of improvement and host annual conferences.

In addition, CBI’s Web site will “fill the information gap” by posting business-relevant laws, government directives and regulations.

Pact Cambodia has been in discussions for the past year with local businesses to design the initiative, said Aaron Bornstein, chief of party for Pact’s Mainstreaming Anti-Corruption for Equity program.

“This is very much a business-led program,” he said Monday.

Membership fees will run from $50 to $200 but are not solidified, though Bornstein said they are intended to allow the CBI to be­come self-sustaining once Pact support ends in 2010.



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