Provinces and municipalities across the country are required to pay top ministries more than $20,500 a year to get funds promised to them by the government, according to documents and provincial heads.
The documents received, which were itemized and approved by the Kep municipal deputy governor, show that provincial heads are obligated to pay the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Interior, the national treasury and local banks about $5,000 every three months to receive funds earmarked for them for basic infrastructure development and administrative costs.
Although the documents only involve the Kep municipality’s payments to the top ministries, provincial heads in other areas claim that they too are forced to pay these high costs just to get the government to release the funds, which had already been promised to them.
“It is true that we have to pay people for their services to the relevant ministries,” said one official in the Kep municipality. “If we do not pay them, it is hard to get the funds or we receive our funds too late.”
According to the official, the government pledges to support the Kep municipality each year with a certain amount of money. This money goes to the development of roads, schools and basic administrative services.
About 30 percent of that earmarked money, however, is “going into everyone’s pocket in the ministries even though the funds are for development,” the official said. “It is a tradition.”
The documents, signed by then-Kep deputy governor An He during 2000 and 2001, show that the Ministry of Finance receives 5 percent (about $2,156) every three months; the Ministry of Finance receives 5 percent; the national treasury gets 2 percent (about $750) and the provincial department of finance receives about $500.
The documents are also stamped with a dated sign that says “Paid.”
An He said he could not remember signing the documents but promised to look into the matter.
Other provincial leaders confirmed that they were also ordered to pay a certain percentage of their development funds to the ministries.
“Every province has to pay a percentage [of funds] if we need money,” said Hem Savon, deputy governor of Kompong Thom province. “Even though it is money for the province, the Ministry of Finance takes it because it has no money in the ministry right now.”
Preah Vihear Deputy Governor Bun Sovann said officials had previously asked Preah Vihear to pay a percentage of its development money to the various ministries, but the local government has always refused.
“I am always strict and hardline against bribery,” he said.
Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Finance, said on Wednesday that he had heard of the allegations but did not know if it was valid.
“I will not allow such things to happen and I will investigate or order provincial officials to say who asked for the money,” Ngy Tayi said. “Why should they spend this money if the funds they ask for are for the working of the province?”