The core issue in Cambodia lies in the absence of a unifying and comprehensive law on procurement. Available though scattered decrees and sub-decrees allow the use of various modes, such as competitive bidding, direct shopping and direct contracting, but competitive bidding is mandatory for purchases worth more than $12,500. There are exceptions for emergency procurements, say, for disaster relief, but criteria are not set to avoid arbitrary decision-making. Competitiveness likewise poses a difficulty because of poor information infrastructure in the country and counter-productive prequalification requirements, especially at the provincial level. Other issues around procurement in Cambodia include the need to train personnel handling the procurement processes and the need for a review and complaint handling mechanisms. Also, citizens’ involvement has yet to find its place in the Cambodian government’s attitude towards the procurement process.
ANSA-EAP engages the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability or CISA for its procurement initiative in Cambodia. CISA, which has 29 member organizations, participated in the lobby for the passage of the anti-corruption law in Cambodia. It received support from PACT for its initial formation.
CISA’s interest in public procurement relates closely with their anti-corruption advocacy. With its track record in policy advocacy, CISA believes it could also push for the long overdue procurement law in Cambodia. To do this effectively, it requested ANSA-EAP’s technical assistance to (a) build its members’ knowledge and capacity to deal with procurement issues, and (b) conduct research about the procurement bill that the group will lobby for passage in the Parliament.