Foreign Ministry Formalizes Public Service Fees

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened a new public services office and formalized fees for a broad group of services often used by foreigners as part of a wider government push to collect revenue and boost efficiency.

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhon issued a statement on Wednesday announcing new charges for services, including visa extensions, certification of official documents and permits allowing Cambodians and foreigners to marry.

The new office at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Samdech Hun Sen Street is expected to make it easier for people to access such services, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry has “set up a specific location for delivering public services and assigned standby officials…to serve the public fast,” the statement said, adding that a list will be posted at the office that outlines “the service fees, duration of service delivery and validity of each service.”

Officials stationed at the new office will also accept complaints and record transactions on new state-issued receipts, the statement said.

Ministry spokesman Chum Sunry said the initiative sought to improve transparency and cut out agents who act as middlemen and charge their own fees.

“We hope that the move will hasten the services and reduce ineffectiveness because the public will be able to go directly to the service delivery office and there will be no mediators,” he said on Wednesday.

“This is the implementation of the policy of the government that focuses on such reforms and especially on the determination of official public service fees at all government ministries and institutions and collection of revenue for the national budget,” he added.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, which has lobbied for years for government ministries to publish their services fees, welcomed the move as a positive step that had the potential to reduce corruption.

“This is in line with our overall recommendations,” he said.

Adequate oversight that ensures officials comply with the rules “could potentially reduce the practice of unofficial payments,” he said. “And, therefore, that could potentially reduce corruption.”

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