Ninety complaints of motorists being overcharged by road tax collectors in 13 provinces and Phnom Penh were received in just one month by a group monitoring the country’s road tax collection, a report released yesterday showed.
Civic Alliance for Social Accountability, a coalition of 11 NGOs, released the report a little more than a month after it began accepting complaints via a hotline in mid-August. Eighty of the 90 complaints received focused on tax officials overcharging motorists paying road taxes, according to the report.
Kompong Cham province received 18 complaints in that timeframe, the most in the country. Takeo province received the second-highest amount with 17. Phnom Penh was third with nine.
While the Finance Ministry requires motorcycle drivers to pay either 3,000 riel, about $0.75, or 4,500 riel, about $1.13, depending on the size of the vehicle, the report showed that motorists were overcharged between 1,500 and 2,000 riel more than the actual fee. Car drivers were overcharged between $2.50 and $5.
“The overcharged money…runs directly to the pocket of the bad tax officials,” the report stated.
San Chey, coordinator of NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said he hoped the report would spur the General Department of Taxation and the county’s Anticorruption Unit to investigate the claims of overcharging.
“Our purpose is to join with public institutions to make the road tax collection process better [and] to avoid accusations from the public,” Mr Chey said. “We want the [General Department of Taxation] to…investigate these cases.”
On Monday, Mr Chey said the NGOs would meet with Anticorruption Unit President Om Yentieng to discuss the allegations of overcharging.
Keo Remy, spokesman for the National Council on Anticorruption, said he was encouraged to see NGOs working to expose corruption, but did not elaborate on what, if any, action the council might take.
Last month, when the hotline campaign was announced, ANSA estimated that officials overcharging motorists for road taxes could pocket up to $1 million this year.
Pen Siman, director-general of the taxation department, could not be reached yesterday.