A World Bank report on governance released Tuesday states that Cambodia showed no improvement in several key governance indicators between 1996 and 2006-including corruption and the rule of law.
The report covers 212 countries and territories and uses 33 different sources representing data from tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO and public sectors, the Bank said in a statement.
The six indicators covered by the report are voice and accountability, political stability and the absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption.
The report states that Cambodia has improved its political stability, but has shown little or no improvement in the other categories. For several of the indicators, the report suggests a trend of slow improvement from 1996 to around 2003, and then a slow decline.
In the case of regulatory quality—basically the ability of the government to foster a good environment for the promotion of business—the report states that Cambodia is actually worse off than it was 1996. It also states that there has been in a decline in voice and accountability—the ability to elect one’s government and freedom of expression—since 2004.
The figures in the report put Cambodia amongst the most poorly rated countries in Asean, with only Burma trailing it in three of the six indicators—rule of law, corruption and government effectiveness.
Cambodia also ranks in the bottom quarter of all the countries in the report for every indicator except political security. In the case of rule of law, which is the country’s worst showing in the report, 92 percent of countries worldwide are thought to perform better than Cambodia.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said he had not seen the report but added that rule of law is improving. “We have worked gradually, correctly and continually to make [officials] respect the rule of law,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak agreed. “How could we rule the country, how could we have the economic growth-over 10 percent per year-if the rule of law had not improved?” he asked.
World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal did not immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment. SRP President Sam Rainsy said that he was not surprised by the report. He said that he believed the business environment in Cambodia has deteriorated in relation to its neighbors because corruption has deterred potential investors. “What we need is peace and stability with justice…. Stability alone is not enough,” he said.
“Given the fact that Cambodia gets massive international assistance…what Cambodia has achieved is disappointing,” he said.
CPP lawmaker Ho Naun said the report’s results are incorrect and asked the Bank to reconsider its findings. Ho Naun added that she expects the government to present the long awaited anti-corruption law to the National Assembly for passage before the end of the year. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has tried to make the country be a law-abiding state,” she said.