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Source: www.asiaecon.org |

CORRUPTION IN CAMBODIA


Cambodia's reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world took another hit as Global Witness issued a damaging report accusing Cambodian officials of robbing its country. Global Witness is an international non-governmental organization, based in London, whose self-described goals are “to expose the corrupt exploitations of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses.”


Cambodia’s reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world took another hit as Global Witness issued a damaging report accusing Cambodian officials of robbing its country. Global Witness is an international non-governmental organization, based in London, whose self-described goals are “to expose the corrupt exploitations of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses.”

This is not the first time Cambodia has been in the center of a corruption scandal. In fact, the same organization, Global Witness, accused high-ranking Cambodian officials of stealing over $13 million in illegal logging. Moreover, Transparency International ranked Cambodia 162nd out of 179 countries surveyed for corruption, making it the second most corrupt nation in Asia after Myanmar.

The most recent allegations claim that Cambodia’s elite have taken control of the countries natural resources for their own personal gains. The report makes such claims as, “financial bonuses paid to secure concession [for oil and mining] – totaling million of dollars – do not show up, as far as Global Witness can see, in the 2006 and 2007 revenue reports from the Ministry of Economy and Finance….Oil company contracts and information on concession allocations are a closely guarded secret within the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority.”

As international companies from countries such as the US, Australia, China, Indonesia and South Korea fight to secure large oil rights off the country’s west coast, Cambodia has been extremely discreet in releasing any information about the allocation of those oil rights. There is also no mention of any payments received in the revenue reports. In fact, Cambodia has released zero information about any of the potential suitors except that it has awarded an undetermined amount to Chevron.

Chevron has recently been brought into the discussion for refusing to release any information concerning the deal. By no means an admission of guilt, Chevron responded to inquiries by releasing a statement saying, “[Chevron] is not in favor of supplying information about what it pays foreign governments to secure rights for oil exploration.” While Chevron is entitled to its own discretion, releasing information could have shed some light on any alleged under-the-table deals.

While oil and mineral revenues only account for a small percentage of Cambodia’s GDP, newly discovered oil fields are expected to boost growth dramatically. It has been estimated that when oil starts flowing in 2011, proceeds will range from $174 million in the beginning years up to $1.7 billion during the peak around 2021.

For a country stricken with poverty and reliant on foreign aid, the potential profits the citizens of Cambodia can receive from domestic oil production is immense. Currently, more than one-third of Cambodia’s 14 million population live on less than one dollar a day and the average life expectancy is only 58. If Cambodia’s natural resources are allowed to flow to the citizens, the country can relinquish its dependence on foreign aid and continue to grow and prosper.

However, the first step is to address corruption. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been implicated in the current natural resources scandal, has been running an increasingly authoritarian government and has not yet implemented any kind of anti-corruption measures. Foreign donors can also been held accountable as they provide nearly half of the national budget. Although donors have asked for improvements, no ultimatum has been given regarding a stoppage of funds. Hopefully, Cambodia can clear up its corruption issues before the oil revenues start to trickle in.


Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |


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