Civil servant salaries would increase 20 percent under the 2011 draft budget, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday, supplying further details on the draft which would mark a substantial increase in government spending.
The $2.4 billion 2011 budget draft, adopted last week by the Council of Ministers, would increase spending by 18 percent over this year’s budget and is expected to be released to the public later this week or next week after it is submitted to the National Assembly.
“The draft budget was adopted last week and is on the way to the National Assembly. Education and health will increase in terms of investment, with an increase of 20 percent for the government staff salaries including teachers,” Mr Hun Sen said, speaking at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.
Last week Finance Minister Keat Chhon said the budget would also increase spending on infrastructure and loans for the agriculture sector.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said though military spending would increase, the money would mainly fund salary hikes.
“Every sector is increasing, not just defense,” added Mr Siphan. He said he could not give details on military spending.
Civil servant salary increases have been a longstanding recommendation of the aid community as a way to improve government effectiveness and services, said Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum.
He said that salary increases would hopefully motivate civil servants who often take second jobs because of low pay. But pay increases are only one part of the equation, he added.
“At same time the government needs a plan to improve performance and effectiveness for the Cambodian people,” he said.
Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teacher Association, said for most teachers a 20 percent increase meant only about $5 more per month, which was still inadequate.
“The government has the ability to raise teachers’ salaries, but the government does not have the will to do so,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Phorn Bopha)