Alleged corruption among officials in charge of collecting road tax is leading to widespread overcharging of drivers, a group representing the informal sector alleged yesterday.
The Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association wrote Sunday to the Ministry of Finance, calling for the ministry to investigate road tax collection offices and punish any officials who overcharge vehicle owners.
Heng Sam Orn, IDEA’s secretary-general, said his association had written the letter because many of its members—who are mostly tuk-tuk, motorcycle taxi and taxi drivers—had complained that this year’s road tax, which the government started collecting in late July, was too high.
“We want to eliminate this open corruption,” he said. “We have clear evidence to prove this practice exists.”
Mr Sam Orn said his members reported having to pay fees that were at least 25 percent higher than the taxes laid out in the Finance Ministry’s proclamation on transportation tax collection, issued July 6.
According to the proclamation, drivers are required to pay 3,000 riel, or about $0.75, for a 70 cc motorcycle, 4,500 riel for motorcycles between 70 and 125 cc, and 7,500 riel, or about $1.88, for a motorcycle with an engine greater than 125 cc. But IDEA said that drivers regularly had to pay as much as 2,500 riel on top of these fees.
IDEA also claimed that car owners were often charged 20,000 riel, which is higher than any tax stipulated in the proclamation.
Officials at the Ministry of Finance could not be reached for comment on the allegations.
Cheam Yeap, CPP lawmaker and chairman of the National Assembly’s finance and banking commission, said he had heard about IDEA’s letter and would contact Finance Minister Keat Chhon to urge him to check the practices of road tax collection officials.
“It is a corrupt act that exploits the state and people’s property. We will take all necessary measures to arrest those officials and bring them to court if we have evidence,” Mr Yeap said.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was concerned about the alleged corrupt practices of road tax collection officials, pointing out that the government is still struggling to collect tax revenues for state coffers.
“It is a shameful act and the government should take action to remove this corruption,” he said. “Our tax collection activity is not even sufficient yet.”