Facing criticism from opposition party parliamentarians, Public Works and Transport Minister Khy Taing Lim defended flagging public works projects by saying he needed more money.
But his pleas on the National Assembly floor on Thursday brought a sharp rebuke from Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who said the Public Works Ministry received approximately $2.7 million last year, with another $5.2 million budgeted this year for additional roads projects.
“The money cannot just go for this or that, it must be used according to a plan,” Keat Chhon (CPP) told Khy Taing Lim during questioning.
Khy Taing Lim, a Funcinpec appointee, earlier had been verbally attacked by Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker San Sun Doeun, who said the Public Works Ministry “does not work for the Khmer people.”
San Sun Doeun took particularly careful aim at Cambodia’s notoriously bad rural roads, claiming that the ministry was building roads that would put its officials in favor with specific political parties, while leaving others in disrepair.
“I do everything for the country and the people,” Khy Taing Lim countered, adding that roads are often destroyed by large truck transports carrying illegally cut logs. “Powerful people are the ghosts who destroy the roads. I do not mean the poor people are destroying them,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians have recently alleged corruption elsewhere in the ministry, saying that Prek Kdam ferry director Phat Sareth embezzled tens of thousands of dollars by under-reporting the number of vehicles using the Mekong River crossing.
Like Khy Taing Lim, Phat Sareth complained that he did not have enough money to cover his expenses, claiming in a July 4 report that the ministry demanded more income than he could produce.