Political wrangling has stalled the long-awaited creation of a National Auditing Authority which would monitor the finances of all government institutions.
The law ordering the establishment of the auditing authority, passed by the National Assembly earlier this year, stipulates that an auditor general and two deputies be appointed to oversee the body.
The coalition government agreed the authority would be headed by a CPP parliamentarian, with the two deputy posts going to Funcinpec, said Kuoch Ky, a Funcinpec lawmaker and member of the National Assembly’s finance and banking commission.
But Prime Minister Hun Sen recently asked that the law be amended to allow the addition of one more deputy, Kuoch Ky said.
Kuoch Ky contends Hun Sen wants to increase the CPP’s influence in the authority’s leadership.
Seang Nam, a CPP lawmaker on the finance and banking commission, declined to comment.
Om Yentieng, Hun Sen’s senior adviser, said he was not aware of Hun Sen’s request.
The authority is meant to be a neutral body that functions independent of the government, conducting audits of government budgets—including the national budget—and government business enterprises. Presumably, this would increase transparency in government agencies and reduce corruption.
The authority would report findings to the Assembly.
In a recent report on good governance, the Cambodia Development Resource Institute said the establishment of an independent auditing authority is crucial to increasing accountability.
“It will be extremely important for the [National Auditing Authority] to establish its ability and readiness to conduct its own thorough, independent audits of public institutions,” the report said. “The initial phase of the NAA’s operations is critical; it sets the precedent for all future activities and will send a message regarding how serious Cambodia is about improving the accountability of the public sector.”
Three candidates have already been unofficially picked for the authority. Chhieng Vun, the current Cambodian ambassador to Australia, will head the authority for the CPP. He is a former finance minister and former head of the National Assembly’s finance and banking commission.
Funcinpec assembly member Sam Raingsek, deputy chairman of the finance and banking commission, and Funcinpec senator Chea Peng Chheang, a former undersecretary of state for finance, will hold the two lower posts, Kuoch Ky said.
The appointments must be approved by a two-thirds vote.
Sam Rainsy lawmaker Hong Sok Heang said he supported Hun Sen’s proposal for another deputy, but said the post should go to the opposition party. “If our party would be in this body, that will ensure independence,” he said. “It’s not only CPP and Funcinpec alone.”