Gov’t Officials Must Pay Income Taxes

Senior Cabinet officials will now have to pay income taxes, civil servants will lose their mobile phones and others may lose their jobs in an effort to trim down the bloated government, Prime Min­ister Hun Sen said Friday.

The announcement came from a senior spokesperson following a Friday meeting at the Council of Ministers, which discussed the reforms along with the country’s budget for 1999.

The details of the budget will be released Monday, said Fin­ance Secretary of State Kong Vibol.

The move comes amidst a government-wide effort to push through fiscal reforms and preparations to the satisfaction of international donor groups. Govern­ment civil service reform was a priority for the International Monetary Fund and a subject of recent criticism from the UN Development Project, one of the government’s key technical partners.

But the formation of the coalition government is expected to double the number of top government jobs from the last one. In 1993 there were about 100 in top-level positions, this year there will be at least 200.

Under Friday’s plan, undersecretaries of state will have to pay 2 percent of their salaries in taxes, 5 percent for secretaries of state and 10 percent for ministers, said Council of Ministers spokesman Sieng Lapresse.

The spokesman did not say whether the prime minister would have to pay taxes, nor did he say how much government officials make. “The taxes will be the national budget…. We should not fully count on the foreign aid or borrow much money from the foreign countries,” Sieng La­presse said.

The numbers of civil servants, policemen and soldiers also will be cut to reduce government costs, but exact numbers of how many will be affected were not released.

“You cannot cut [defense spending] aggressively…but it will be reduced, as it has been, year by year,” Kong Vibol said.

And handphones for anyone other than government ministers are now out, Sieng Lapresse said, adding that the government has paid more than $1 million in phone charges.

“Even me, I haven’t a handphone any longer. If you want to talk to me, you have to call me by land-line telephone,” he said in a pres­s conference.


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