An association of tuk-tuk drivers was joined yesterday by a regional good government organization in denouncing alleged corruption among officials collecting road taxes, estimating that they could pocket more than $1 million this year.
At a news conference yesterday, the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific and the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association called the public and the government to combat corruption in road tax collection.
Cambodians were overcharged for 1,391,565 automobiles and 1,135,638 motorbikes this year alone, they said.
On average “if [the owner of] each vehicle pays an extra 2,000 riel […], it means Cambodia has wasted around one million dollars annually,” the groups said in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, vehicle owners are forced by taxation officers to pay a higher price.”
Finance Ministry officials were unavailable for comment yesterday, and Om Yentieng, the government’s anticorruption czar named to the new anti-graft body in May, said he was too busy to comment.
The statement said that while the Finance Ministry required drivers to pay 3,000 to 4,500 riel, or between $0.75 and $1.13, per motorcycle, taxation officials charged 5,000 to 6,000 riel, or up to $1.50. For cars, drivers are required to pay around $2.50 but were in fact routinely charged twice as much.
San Chey, coordinator for ANSA, said his organization had established a hotline and an e-mail address to receive and record road tax complaints and report them to the Finance Ministry and anti-corruption authorities.
“Until now, we have the ID number of some of the officers and their names. If they do not stop [extorting extra money from the tax], we will raise their name to the Finance Ministry or post them in the papers or broadcast them on the radio,” Mr Chey said. “We already received 15 complaints from people in various provinces.”
“We will start a month [long] campaign, starting from today, to collect all the complaints,” he added.
Vorn Pao, president of IDEA, said during the conference that Cambodians must work together to end the corruption that has adversely affected the development of the country.
“We have to cut this chronic disease and prevent it from spreading,” said Mr Pao. “We also want to see an effective establishment of the anticorruption body, [and to see] whether it will be as strong as what they announced via the media.”