Transport Minister Defends Self-Granted Bonuses

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Wednesday posted to its website a four-page document giving Public Works and Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek’s response to complaints of corruption within his ministry, including that the minister had awarded himself exorbitant bonuses.

The ACU said in the document that it had received a number of complaints from within the ministry that high-ranking officials, including Mr. Iv Tek, had abused a performance-based bonus system to award themselves large sums of money while disregarding other staff.

The complaints received by the ACU, according to the document, say that lower-level officials had received no bonuses for 2013 and that there was no transparent process in determining the awards.

“His Excellency the minister [Mr. Iv Tek] received a 9-percent bonus and the minister’s cabinet received 4-percent bonuses,” the ACU document says. It adds that two secretaries of state at the ministry received bonuses of 5.33 percent, one received a 3.33-percent bonus and four others received bonuses of 1.33 percent.

A further 10 undersecretaries of state and some department heads were also offered smaller bonuses, the document says. It does not state how much each official was drawing as a base salary.

The ACU document provides Mr. Iv Tek’s response to the complaints, which says that his large bonus was merit-based.

“Given that His Excellency the minister [Mr. Iv Tek] has the most responsibility in the ministry, he should receive 9 percent,” the document says, paraphrasing Mr. Iv Tek’s response to the ACU.

“Based on the good performance and the value that the cabinet plays in a role facilitating all documents before they are sent to the minister, the ministry decided to offer 4 percent,” it explains in regards to the bonus awarded to Mr. Iv Tek’s cabinet.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, who declined to be named for fear of losing his job, said Wednesday that some in the ministry, from low-ranking officials to secretaries of state, had complained to the ACU due to jealousy over the bonuses.

“There are some officials who are not happy, so they have circulated this issue,” the official explained. He argued, however, that it is Mr. Iv Tek’s prerogative as minister to decide the remuneration of officials.

“It is the discretion of the minister to allocate how much money should be given to officials. This is not corruption,” the official said.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has since May 2013 been permitted by an agreement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to keep 29 percent of the revenue it raises to reward staff for good performance in revenue collection and public service provision.

Transparency International Cambodia spokesman Pich Pisey said that the measure, ostensibly intended to stamp out corruption by providing positive incentives and alternative sources of income to officials, has yet to prove its effectiveness.

“The more effective way would be to increase the salaries of civil servants and to assign tasks to them in line with their ranks in order for them to provide public services effectively,” Mr. Pisey said.

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