GDP Up 10 Percent in Early 2008: Keat Chhon

Cambodia’s GDP grew 10.1 percent in the first two months of 2008, Finance Minister Keat Chhon told the National As­sembly on Thursday during a debate on a new public financial management draft law.

The draft law contains a series of checks and balances to manage the government’s budget and will ensure that an accounting of its expenditures is available to lawmakers within the following year, CPP Lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the Assembly.

Under the draft law, officials who fail to supply records of their expenditures to the National Assembly in a timely manner can be fired, Cheam Yeap said.

“The law would ensure the budget is spent correctly and that the government is achieving its spending goals,” he added.

SRP Lawmaker Son Chhay said during the debate that he doubted the law would have much affect and the government is already required to show expenditures within a year.

“The government is always late, so it makes it impossible for the National Assembly to audit expenditures,” he said, adding that 2005 budget expenditures were not made available until last year.

Praising his government’s handling of the economy, Keat Chhon said good management had produced double-digit growth since 2004, except last year when the GDP grew at 9.7 percent.

“The government can manage the economy and produce double-digit growth,” he said.

SRP President Sam Rainsy, however, faulted the government’s handling of the economy saying that GDP growth had created a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

   (Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)

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