The Minister of Health announced a crackdown in his ministry Tuesday on the use of donated cars for employees’ personal use, in one of the first public acknowledgments of what NGO and government officials said was a widespread but little-discussed abuse of donor funds.
Minister Nuth Sokhon said he will soon call a meeting of ministry officials who have been using cars, donated for field work on AIDS programs and other ministry activities, for personal after-hours entertainment or family trips to the provinces.
“All these cars are not for personal use or family use,” Nuth Sokhon said. “If the donors see this, they are not happy.”
Ministry vehicles must now be kept on ministry grounds after working hours, he said.
Though donated vehicles often come with the stipulation that they be used only for work-related activities, their abuse by organization employees is an open secret, NGO and government officials said this week.
The extracurricular wear and tear usually comes at the organization’s expense, officials said.
“If the cars are used only for the organization’s work, they can be used for many years, but they have used them for their personal use more than development,” said Srey Pov, an official of the Interior Ministry who supervises a fleet of cars that the ministry loans to local NGOs.
“When [the cars] are old, they will start to ask donors again to provide [new ones]” he said.
Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development said he was careful to restrict use of the center’s car to working hours, as the donors who provided it specifically prohibited personal use.