Cambodia’s military budget for this fiscal year is $80 million, down $5 million from the previous year, according to a high-ranking military official.
He said the reduction marks the first time since 1993 the budget has been cut, and noted that 85 percent of the budget—or $68 million—pays for troop salaries, clothing, food, fuel and health care.
The remaining 15 percent—or $12 million—may not be enough for training expenses or repairs to aircraft, ships and military forts, said the official, who works in the Ministry of Defense’s logistic and financial department.
The official said the military had asked for $160 million, and the budget they were given is so inadequate that the military could face “shortages” in the coming year.
“The Finance Ministry never gives us what we propose,’’ he said. He said soldiers’ salaries are too low, at roughly $30 per month, which means they don’t even make as much as private security guards.
Donor nations have long criticized Cambodia for spending at least half its budget on the military at the expense of such social programs as health and education.
The official said the military budget was cut this year because internal fighting has ended and there is no need to transport troops.
Earlier this year, the government officially estimated the number of troops at 140,693, but independent analysts (and some RCAF generals) say the true number is less than 100,000.
Chum Sambath, undersecretary of state for defense, said that despite more than 20 years of war, RCAF troops have hardly any proper military forts.
‘’We need more funds to construct military forts for the whole country,’’ he said. ‘’We get some [money] from China to construct them,” but not enough, he said.