Although the national election is just weeks away and opposition lawmakers have been banned from Parliament until a new government is formed in September, the National Assembly on Tuesday forged ahead with its work in preparing next year’s national budget.
Without the involvement from the 27 opposition lawmakers who were banned from Parliament by the CPP-controlled National Assembly permanent committee last week, ruling party lawmakers including Finance Minister Keat Chhon and CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap held a workshop to begin outlining the framework for the 2014 national budget.
The gathering comes on the back of a call by Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 2 for his administration to begin work on the government’s next mandate despite having not yet won the July 28 election.
Speaking at the workshop Tuesday, National Assembly President Heng Samrin said that efforts are now under way to make sure that the third phase of Mr. Hun Sen’s so-called rectangular strategy—a comprehensive growth-driven economic policy—is ready to be implemented once votes are tallied next month.
“2014 is the new year with the new strategy for development that will be prepared by the party that is elected in the general election for the fifth mandate in July 2013,” he said.
“The current government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen has continued to strengthen its prior policies…and is now preparing for the third phase of the rectangular strategy based on the experiences, issues it had confronted and good lessons which it has applied in the past five years,” Mr. Samrin said.
“We will win again…so don’t be in doubt. For the forthcoming elections and continuing until 2018, Hun Sen will be elected as prime minister,” he added.
Executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia Koul Panha said that CPP lawmakers were using the workshop as an opportunity to share their promises of greater development prior to the election.
“They are talking now to gain benefits by telling the people that after they win the election they will spend money on this and that,” said Mr. Panha.
Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) spokesman Yim Sovann said that the workshop was pointless since his party would revamp government policy when they are elected to power in July.
“They [the CPP] can do what they want right now, but the CNRP will change it after we win the election,” he said.