Government Audit Watchdog Plan Slowed

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.”

 

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