Just home from my first week in Phnom Penh (next week will be in March). One of two weeks in order to plan a three year long project to help modernizing Cambodian authorities. Now we are in the inception phase that will end in April or May. The plan is that a three year project is to start from July or August.
Authorities are to become more transparent and accountable so that the Kmer people and businesses contribute more to the needs of the society. And for that to happen authorities must be more transparent and able to show what and how taxes are used to finance health, infrastructure and everything else that builds a modern society. The government’s goal is to become a country in the higher part of the middle developed countries before 2030.
That I must say, is both a really immense and interesting challenge in a society where corruption is larger than anything I have seen before and anywhere else! After having been in Phnom Penh a week, the contrasts are amazing. Just a few observations:
- people (mostly mothers and small childs) living on the street, begging for aid to every car that stops near red lights
- fancy cars (I have actally never seen so many new Lexuses and Landcruisers in an Asian city before) driving around, some with drivers
- governement officials that have high positions within the government and at the same time owning restaurants and other bisinesses
- a system where a very few businesses contribute with a very low level of taxes and the rest doesn’t contribute att all
- there is no personal income taxes and only a very little transportation tax and property tax
- the income level is of course low, the bottom for governement officials is set at USD180 a month
No, wonder there isn’t enough money to build healthcare, infrastrucure and ransparent authorities (and ministries)!
Well, we are on the way to try to help out and making it clear for the autorities what they need to do to have citizens trust and by that to be willing to contribute!