Council OKs Draft of 2003 Gov’t Budget

The Council of Ministers on Fri­­day approved a draft government budget for next year, based on projected 6 percent economic growth and 4 percent inflation, according to a statement from the council.

The statement does not specify how funds would be allocated un­der the proposed budget or give monetary figures for projected in­comes and expenditures. Neither the council nor the Ministry of Economy and Finance would provide a copy of the draft budget legislation itself.

According to the council’s statement, the draft budget takes in­to account the cost of next year’s general elections, scheduled for July; continued strengthening of the nation’s 1,621 new commune councils, elected for the first time in February; various ongoing governmental re­forms; and implementation of the national poverty reduction strategy.

The government expects the most growth from its service sector, predicting an 8 percent in­crease based on the continued boom in Cambodian tourism.

Some 800,000 foreign tourists were expected to visit Cambodia in 2002, and the figure is expected to reach 1 million in 2003 if the world situation remains stable, ac­cording to the statement.

The draft budget also projects that the industrial sector will grow by 7 percent next year, while agriculture is projected to increase 3.5 percent.

Exports are expected to in­crease by 5.4 percent and imports by 5.9 percent, according to the statement. Payments on government debts are set to account for 10.1 percent of gross domestic product, down from 10.6 percent in 2002.

The government’s gross international capital reserves—the amount of foreign currencies kept in state coffers to keep the economy stable—are projected to increase to the point where they could insure imports for 3.6 months, according to the statement.

The government hopes to collect revenue amounting to 13.2 percent of GDP while reducing ex­penditures to 11.9 percent of GDP. Some 1.5 percent of GDP is to be set aside for implementation of domestic infrastructure projects targeted toward poverty re­duction, according to the statement.

The National Assembly ap­proved a $687.1 million budget for 2002, allocating more to edu­ca­tion, health and social services and less to defense and security. However, actual expenditures seldom match legislated budgets in Cambodia.


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