Several National Assembly members demanded Monday that the government increase the annual budget allocation for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in order to preserve Khmer culture.
“I want to request the Ministry of Finance to think about giving money so we can have enough in the budget to develop and preserve the national culture that faces challenges,” said CPP parliamentarian Cheam Yeap.
Saying that the country’s heritage is being ignored, Cheam Yeap said, “We should give more budget to help protect our culture or our culture will have a problem.”
The ministry has been allocated about $3.7 million in this year’s budget.
Ministry of Culture Secretary of State Prince Sisowath Panara Sirivuddh said that Cambodia’s budget for the preservation of its national culture is not equal to those of other countries—some of which have annual budgets of $10 million.
“I don’t blame this because we are poor—we are using all our hands and our will to improve the struggling culture,” Sisowath Panara Sirivuddh said Monday.
He cited the recent confiscation of more than 11,000 pirated video discs as evidence that the ministry needs an increased budget in order to secure cultural protection.
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh shared these concerns, adding that France, under the leadership of former president Charles de Gaulle, provided the largest budget for its Ministry of Culture.
Funcinpec lawmaker Nan Sy also weighed in during the Assembly session Monday, complaining that the Ministry of Culture bore the full responsibility of protecting the nation’s cultural treasures but has no part in any of the marketing of Cambodia’s heritage sites.
For example, he said the ministry is required to manage the Angkor Wat temple complex but the ticket concession rights are given to the privately owned Sokimex Company.