Hun Sen Urges Officials To Use Less Gasoline

Prime Minister Hun Sen ap­pealed personally on Thurs­day to government and military officials across the country to cut back on their use of government-sub­sidized gasoline.

The high price of gasoline will force the country to run over budget in 2008 and has forced the government to lower the amount of vehicle fuel allotted for official use, Hun Sen said.

“I appeal in general to all state institutions that use government gasoline to strictly save [fuel],” he said. “If we don’t, we will face difficulties.”

The government has long paid for the gasoline costs in­curred by officials when using ve­hicles for government work. But the Min­istry of Finance warn­ed in December that an in­ability to reduce the government’s gasoline bill could mean the 2008 budget would have to be drastically recalculated.

Hun Sen mentioned the Min­istry of Defense specifically in his speech Thursday as one in­stitution that should set an ex­ample in cutting back on gas.

“I beg you, you must save [fuel], please help me,” Hun Sen said. He also warned that the unauthorized use of government gasoline must stop.

“There are some officials who like to take their families out during the weekend and they use state gasoline to do so,” Hun Sen said.

“We must save the gasoline money and spend it on building roads and bridges,” he added.

Speaking during a hospital inauguration ceremony in Kom­pong Cham province, Hun Sen al­so joked that to combat the fuel price problem, government of­ficials should consider car sharing.

“You should form an association to share the vehicles,” he said.

Gasoline prices have spiraled in Cambodia in recent years, the most recent surge being in Nov­ember, when prices went up by around 10 percent in a single day to about $1.10 per liter.

Though Hun Sen did not say how much money was allocated to each ministry for annual gasoline usage, Ministry of Finance Secretary-General Hang Chuon Naron reiterated Thursday that a reduction was necessary.

Ministries, he said, would be required to reduce their gasoline expenditure in accordance with the percentage rise in the price of gas.

“The gasoline expenditure must be balanced with the budget that has been reserved,” he said.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Thursday that Hun Sen’s speech was still not doing enough to deal with overspending by civil servants on gasoline.

“The prime minister should be setting out an order, as officials might not comply with an appeal,” Eng Chhay Eang said.

He also said that getting government officials to cut down on their usage of government-subsidized fuel would do nothing to help ordinary people.

“The price of the gasoline is still the price,” he said.

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