2008 Draft National Budget Tops $1.25 Billion

The government has passed a draft law on the projected national budget for 2008, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers.

Finance Ministry Secretary of State Ouk Rabun said Monday the projected national budget for 2008 was proposed at over $1.25 billion.

The ministries of Education, Health and Social Affairs were the priorities for the 2008 budget, according to Ouk Rabun, who claimed the percentage allocated to the three had been sharply increas­ed for next year.

“There are a lot of problems with people’s health and improving standards of education will help to reduce poverty,” he said.

Finance Ministry Secretary-Gen­eral Hang Chuon Naron said the 2008 budget represented a 15 percent jump from the $1.1 billion projected for 2007. The national budget had been increased for the construction of roads and hydro-electricity plants, he said.

The Council of Ministers’ Friday statement highlighted one such con­struction project, saying that Prime Minister Hun Sen had or­der­ed Finance Minister Keat Chhon and Public Works Minister Sun Chanthol to study possible improvements to National Road 78 linking Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said that every year the government tries to increase the budget for social ministries such as education and health but they never spend that money, while other ministries spend more than they are allocated.

Funcinpec ministers head a number of social ministries, including both Health and Education.

According to the Council of Min­isters statement, the draft 2008 budget law also includes figures predicting economic growth of around 7 percent next year, an inflation rate of around 4 percent and an exchange rate that will not exceed 4,100 riel to one US dollar.


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