Hun Sen Pushes Streamlining of Public Service

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that the government would temporarily stop recruiting more officials in sectors other than health and education, and also halt promotions in a bid to curb the mounting costs of maintaining a large civil service.

In a speech at a meeting of the National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said it was also vital that civil servants retired immediately after reaching the retirement age.

“In 2010, we are strict on recruiting, except for teachers and doctors, and we suspend promoting ranks,” Mr Hun Sen said, adding that only lower-ranking soldiers and police would receive promotions.

Mr Hun Sen said there were too many civil servants in Cambodia and that sectors other than education and health needed to streamline their operating structures to cut costs.

“I appeal that our staff are too many…. The people who need to retire have to retire,” he said. “Where can we get the money to help our people regarding infrastructure such as the road system, hospitals and schools if we spend too much money on staff?”

SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that he welcomed Mr Hun Sen’s decision to force the retirement of government officials, but added that he was still concerned about nepotism within government ranks.

“It is good since the old officials have to move, and it is a chance for the new generation to work [their way up],” Mr Sovann said.

Mr Hun Sen also continued to push for the decentralization of government power, warning government officials that they needed to share their work with their counterparts from provincial and district offices.

“Our children, the next generation, will benefit from this reform concerning this…push of power to the local [officials],” Mr Hun Sen said.

Nam Tum, chief of the Kompong Thom provincial council, said yesterday that lower tiers of government have already been implementing the government’s desire for them to provide better services.

Mr Tum said that an example of the decentralization was the registration of vehicle license plates, which he said will be the responsibility of individual districts. “It will be easier for the people, because it is closer to their houses,” Mr Tum said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said yesterday that the government’s push to decentralize was not yet working effectively, as officials at lower government levels were still leaving decisions to their superiors.

“The district and commune officials are still concerned about their superior and party work…. They dare not decide to do big jobs on their own,” Mr Panha said.

“The people are not involved much with the commune officials because they think that these people can not help them.”

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