MPs Debate Budget for 2000

The government collected less revenue than expected in 2000, but kept the budget balanced by underspending on public services while at the same time overspending on government functions and on the ministries of finance, interior and information.

The National Assembly on Friday debated the 2000 Finance Act, comparing the budget to ac­tual revenues and expenditures.

The government said it collected 1.536 trillion riel (about $390 million) of a projected 2.355 trillion riel (about $598 million), or 65.6 percent of expected revenue for 2000, according to government figures. The government said it spent only 64.9 percent of its projected budget, for a surplus of about $1.8 million.

Fifty-two percent of actual revenue came from customs, 16 percent from taxes and the rest from concessions, contracts, services and foreign aid.

The Council of Ministers spent more than twice as much money as it was allotted—74.3 billion riel (about $18.6 million), or 224 percent of the budgeted amount.

The National Assembly, Sen­ate, Constitutional Council, Royal Palace and Secretariat of Public Function also went over their budgets, although none by more than 20 percent. The Ministry of Infor­mation spent 163 percent of its budget, the Ministry of Finance 133 percent and the Ministry of Interior 107 percent.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport spent just 43 percent of its budget, while the ministries of health, education and women’s affairs also underspent their allotments.

Ouk Rabun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Finance, said the overspending came from a 10 percent raise in government salaries, natural disasters, and the unanticipated costs of hosting visiting delegations.

Customs revenue was lower than expected because of smuggling and a decrease in imports, he said.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy blamed the low revenue on corruption and mismanagement of ports, timber and gas.

He pushed for increased allocations to help the poor, elderly and unemployed.

The debate is scheduled to continue Tuesday.


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