CMAC Chief Offers to Cut His Own Salary

In an effort to cut costs while keeping his agency operating, Cambodian Mine Action Center Dir­ec­tor-General Khem Sophoan has recommended temporarily cutting salaries, including his own.

The pay cut—one of three options that will come before the agency’s governing council next week—has received the support of most in CMAC’s headquarters, Khem Sophoan said Thurs­day. Letters detailing the proposal are being sent out to CMAC staff in the field for their input.

The measure, which would reduce staff monthly salaries by as much as 50 percent, would save CMAC about $130,000 a month, Khem Sophoan said.

Staffers making more money would have their salaries cut more drastically than those with lower monthly salaries.

Khem Sophoan’s $3,000 paycheck would be the only one to be halved. Staff making $1,000 a month would see a 40 percent cut, with those making between $200 and $700 a month cut from 25 percent to 35 percent.

Other options being considered are permanently cutting 30 percent of CMAC’s staff or taking Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advice earlier this week to cut 90 percent of the agency’s staff and effectively shut it down until donor funding is resumed.

The options are the result of a feverish two days of meetings of senior CMAC staff trying to keep the agency open in the face of looming financial crisis, Khem Sophoan said.

Though CMAC has about $1 million to last the remainder of the year—including $50,000 from the Cambodian government and $300,000 from Australia—it still has to come up with an additional $500,000 or more to keep operating, Khem Sophoan said.

Both Khem Sophoan and CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly partially blame the agency’s current financial troubles on political fighting between donors and the government—each of whom want the other to give more to CMAC.

“We have become the battlefield for these two sides. We have changed from a humanitarian organization to a political organization and our humanitarian mission suffers,” Khem Sophoan said.

Though Australia, one of CMAC’s biggest contributors, has agreed to support the agency, no other donors have agreed to commit any funds before the end of the year.

Khem Sophoan said he has met with UN Development Pro­gram staff and Canadian Ambas­sador Normand Mailhot, who said he will push his government for emergency funding.

“[Khem Sophoan’s] initiative is very courageous, very novel and refreshing,” Mailhot said. “It is in this context that I have gone to my government with a very strong recommendation.”

Mailhot said though it is unclear how much money Canada could even release to CMAC.


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