Lawmakers Debate Property Taxes, Education Expenditures

National As­sembly lawmakers debated the 2010 national bud­get yesterday, focusing on a range of items in the draft from tax increases to spending on education and agriculture.

The overall budget of about $2 billion, approved by the Council of Ministers in October, marks an in­crease of 11 percent over the 2009 budget of $1.8 billion.

According to the draft budget, owners of residential property valued at more than 100 million riel, or about $25,000, would annually pay 0.1 percent of the market value in tax. Additionally, owners of luxury vehicles would be taxed between $119 and $476 per year, depending on the size of the vehicle’s engine.

During yesterday’s debate, Pailin province CPP lawmaker Ich Sarou said the new tax­es would allow for increased government spending.

“This is what most countries…are doing,” he said of the taxes, adding that officials should make more of an effort to be less wasteful and should reduce their expenses.

SRP Lawmaker Tioulong Sau­mura, however, said Mr Sarou’s views on raising taxes were flawed. She argued that governments that increased taxes had also implemented significant stimulus packages to bolster their economies.

“In contrast, in Cambodia, we have reduced state pensions for the military and the police,” she said.

Ms Saumura said spending on priority sectors such as education was not high enough in the draft.

“If 50 percent of Cambodians need education, then 10 percent of the total budget for this sector is very low,” she said.

Ms Saumura also endorsed ad­vice from former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawat­ra, who last month at an economic lecture to members of the state and private sectors, proposed introducing policies like debt forgiveness and a village loan fund run by residents.

SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said the government should not reduce the number of civil servants in the education sector and should refrain from raising property and automobile taxes.

Lawmakers are scheduled to finish debating the draft budget today.


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