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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

30 Tax Agents To Face Corruption Charges

A watchdog organization says the Ministry of Economy and Finance's tax collectors are bilking the country out of at least a million dollars a year by overcharging for annual vehicle stickers.

Thirty tax officials will face the loss of their jobs, after an investigation by the new Anti-Corruption Unit.

Om Yentieng, a senior government advisor and head of the ACU, told reporters Wednesday the 30 agents from the Ministry of Finance’s taxation unit had overcharged vehicle owners as much as $1.20 per annual registration tag.

The ACU was acting on complaints filed by an NGO on behalf of more than 200 citizens who said they were routinely overcharged for vehicle registration.

The complaints were the first real test of the ACU, which was formed as part of a recently passed anti-corruption law. Some 2,700 people from 14 provinces contributed corruption complaints earlier this year.

“I will send all the evidence concerning the 30 agents to the Ministry of Economy and Finance and its general department of taxation tomorrow morning to make administrative punishments,” Om Yentieng said. “I believe that anyone who has made a serious mistake will be sacked from his or her job.”

Other administrative punishments can include the loss of promotion or suspension.

The ACU has compiled a 14-page brief, provided to reporters, that identifies the alleged corrupt agents, provides photo IDS and lists the sites were they allegedly bilked motorists of their money.

According to the brief, vehicle owners were overcharged for annual registration on “pretexts,” such as the cost of forms themselves, of filling out the forms or even for the purchase of drinking water.

San Chey, a project coordinator for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, which gathered the complaints, said administrative punishment was acceptable for now.

“Next year, we want to see those guilty of corruption sentenced to prison,” he said. “But for this year, administrative punishment is an acceptable act for civil society.”

Om John, deputy chief of the Ministry of Finance’s tax department, said agents would not escape punishment.
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‘Centrist’ Asian Parties Establish Peace Commission

Mushahid Hussain Sayed of Pakistan, secretary-general of Centrist Democrats International Asia Pacific, right, confers with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, center left, during a signing ceremony in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, Wednesday.

Political party representatives of nearly 40 Asian countries signed an accord in Phnom Penh Wednesday to establish a commission to deal with regional security and global stability issues.

The accord was the result of the fourth meeting of a grouping called Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International. The CAPDI is part of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, which is made up of 300 members.

The so-called CAPDI Peace Commission will “promote an environment of peace, stability and security in Asia by initiating and supporting negotiation and dialogue in various hot spots in the region,” said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, secretary-general of the Pakistan Muslim League and of ICAPP.

CAPDI, which includes political parties from China, North Korea, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, claims to support a peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear build-up and disputes on the Korean peninsula, along with peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The group also aims to prevent violence and terrorism and rejects “extremist” politics.

The establishment of the Peace Commission comes amid growing tension between the two Koreas, growing international concern over Iran’s nuclear program and an ongoing US war in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Cambodian People’s Party wished to participate in CAPDI “to deal with problems in different countries as well as the region.”
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Bayon TV Begins Disbursement of Bridge Donations

Eighty-three families of victims from last week’s bridge stampede received a first round of donations from Bayon TV, collecting more than $5,000 each.

The TV station raised the money from its Cambodian audience following the Nov. 22 bridge disaster, which left 351 people dead and 395 injured.

Tit Thavrith, deputy director of Bayon Radio and TV, said the disbursement was a “first step” to compensate victims of the disaster and would be followed by teams making provincial trips.

Bayon TV said it collected more than $2.5 million in the week following the deadly bridge stampede, one of the worst disasters in recent Cambodian history.

Tit Thavrith said the disbursements should end speculation the TV station would not transparently issue the money.

The money will help the families of victims to reduce expenditures, such as seven-day and hundred-day ceremonies, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said during a distribution ceremony at Bayon TV station on Wednesday. “But this money cannot fully compensate the loss to the families.”

Chan Serey, a 45-year-old soldier stationed in Kampong Speu province, who lost his wife and three children in the stampede, said the money was more than he had seen before, but it could not make up for the death of his family.

He would use the money to open a small shop in his house in Kampong Chhnang province, he said.

Phea Chan Nara, 43, whose brother was killed on the bridge, said he would use the money to hold the 100-day funeral ceremony and help his elderly mother.
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PM to tackle bilateral issues with Cambodian counterpar

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is currently on a Cambodia visit to participate in the sixth International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), will meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday.

According to Shuro Jung Pandey, a press assistant of PM Nepal, Nepal and his Cambodian counterpart will hold bilateral talks in the meeting.

Earlier, Cambodian Environment Minister and high ranking officials of the Foreign Ministry had received Prime Minister Nepal in Phnom Penh on Wednesday morning.

PM Nepal had left Kathmandu on Tuesday on a 10-day foreign tour amid criticism from various quarters. He is also a permanent and founding member the ICAPP.

The convention is also to hold separate discussions on various issues like climate change, heritage security, women's and youth's participation in politics.

PM Nepal is scheduled to address the inauguration programme of the convention.
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