Gov’t Spent Less on 2003 Education Salaries

The government spent less money on education salaries last year than in 2002, according to provisional 2003 budget implementation figures from the Ministry of Finance. 

Though the 2003 budget law al­located $536,250 for education sal­ar­ies, figures show that $379,750 of that, or about 71 percent, was ac­tually spent. In 2002, fig­­ures show, the government spent $389,500 on education salaries.

Teachers have long fought for an increase in their salaries, which linger around $25 per month, but to little avail. In its 2003 Human Development Report, the UN said “teacher wages have progressively eroded” here and compared Cam­bodia’s education system to Sierra Leone, Zambia and Burma.

On Monday, Phok Than, Fun­cin­­­pec secretary of state at the Min­­­istry of Education, blamed the CPP for the ministry’s cash flow problems.

The CPP “does not re­spect the budget approved by the Na­tional As­sembly,” he said. “If we don’t have the money to implement programs, the quality suffers.”

Phok Than, who also chairs the ed­ucation finance committee, said he met about four times last year with officials from the Ministry of Fi­nance urging them to release money to his ministry on time.

“Each time, they promised to do it, saying that the check was in the mail,” the secretary of state said. “But when the meeting is over, nothing happens.”

“They say there is no money,” he added, “but Finance and Inter­ior ministries always overspend their allocated budgets. It’s very bad for the country.”

Im Sethy, the CPP secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Ministry of Education, which has been deemed a priority and has the largest budget of any ministry, spent about 79 per­cent of the money allocated to it in the 2003 budget law, figures show. The Interior Ministry spent 167 percent of its 2003 allocated bud­get, the figures show. The Fin­ance Ministry spent about 199 percent.

Ly Sathek, director of the fin­ance department at the Minis­try of Education and a CPP member, said he didn’t know why his min­istry spent less than other min­is­tries. He added that the min­istry has had “a little difficulty” in paying teachers, saying that all of the teachers’ salaries for January have still not been paid.

Rong Chhun, head of the Cam­bodian Independent Teachers’ As­so­ciation, said Monday that “teach­ers cannot fulfill their jobs because of the low salary.”

Also, he said, since the death of un­ion lea­der Chea Vichea teach­ers and other civil servants have been afraid to protest over low sal­aries and late payments.

“It’s not only education that has trouble getting money,” he said.

 

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