Hun Sen: Don’t Believe Campaign Promises

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday warned voters not to trust political parties’ campaign promises to increase salaries for teachers and civil servants if they win the election.

“It’s not difficult to increase teachers’ salaries—just print more money,” the premier said at a graduation ceremony of the Fac­ulty of Pedagogy. “But if we print more money we will devastate the people.”

Printing more currency would cause the price of goods to in­crease and damage the country’s macroeconomic structure, Hun Sen said. The only way the government could really increase sal­aries, he said, would be to tax rice farmers.

“They will charge land taxes to keep their promise,” he said.

But Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teach­ers’ Association, said there was no need to charge land taxes or print more money. The government need only eliminate corruption, he said, and there would be plenty of money for civil servants.

Rong Chhun accused Hun Sen of using threats and excuses to prevent people from voting for change. “He never mentioned corruption in front of the students and teachers,” he said.

Rong Chhun recently led more than 300 teachers in a demonstration for higher salaries in front of the National Assembly.

He is lobbying for monthly wages of at least $100.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said his party, if elected, would increase wages by reducing corruption and would not tax owners of less than 10 hectares of land.

Son Chhay claimed that $180 million was lost from the national budget last year due to corruption.

Hun Sen and the ruling CPP routinely campaign on their opposition to land taxes for the rural poor—although some economists say that the lack of government services in the provinces already acts as a tax on poor farmers.

 

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