Hun Sen Slaps Freeze on New Gov’t Positions, Departments

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week issued a directive ordering all government bodies to hold off on new hires for the rest of the year except to fill existing positions being vacated, in an apparent bid to keep spending in line with the current state budget.

The premier laid out the new rule in a directive signed Thursday.

“In 2015, the recruitment of civil servants at all ministries and institutions at the national and sub-national levels, soldiers and national police, is allowed equal to the number of civil servants who leave their jobs due to retirement, resignation, dismissal, work-related injury or death,” it says.

To avoid creating new positions, the directive orders all government bodies not to create new departments and to use existing civil servants “to best of available resources.”

The directive also mentions the government’s intention to improve the quality of the work of its civil servants but fails to elaborate on how it intends to go about achieving the goal.

Sar Samerdy, director of the Ministry of Public Function’s legislative department, would not elaborate on the new rules or explain what prompted them.

Government employees have a reputation for rampant corruption and for shirking the responsibilities of their low-paying public jobs in order to pursue more lucrative work in the private sector.

Kao Poeun, president of the Independent Civil-Servants Association, which advocates for higher salaries for government employees, said civil servants’ performance would not improve significantly until the state tackled the high rate of turnover by paying them a living wage.

Mr. Poeun said the average civil servant currently earns between $120 and $150 per month but should be making $400 to $500.

“The newcomers do not stay too long because they cannot live on such a small salary,” he said. “But those officials who can take bribes under the table, they can stay.”

Mr. Hun Sen announced raises for teachers and nurses in August, and for commune and village officials in January.

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