National Assembly Debates Law On State Finances Management

The National Assembly yesterday debated a draft law that aims to legislate how sub-national bodies within the government manage state finances and property.

The draft law, consisting of eight chapters, is aimed at providing provincial, district, commune and municipal authorities with the procedures to transfer and spend funds transparently, part of the government’s policy to decentralize power from the ministerial level to provincial areas.

“Each counselor is responsible to represent and carry out the work of the people to develop each local area,” according to a copy of the draft law. Lawmakers debated two chapters yesterday and are scheduled to continue debate today.

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Ass­embly’s commission on economy, finance, banking and audit, yesterday said the law was a step toward im­proving the ways in which state mo­ney is spent and property is managed.

“This law will make the government strengthen the structure of public finances,” he said.

Opposition SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said he supported the law, but wanted the government to increase the salaries of officials, especially at the commune and village level. He said current salary levels only served to fuel the likelihood of corruption in the provinces.

“The village chiefs only get about $10 per month and commune councilors get about $16. I request that the government should provide them with at least $100 per month.”

According to the draft law, once the national budget has been passed, the Ministry of Finance will outline the budget allocated to sub-national levels of government in a separate proclamation.

In December, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the government would need an estimated $400 million over the next three years to fund government reforms that would hand over more resources and power to local authorities.

Prior to his announcement in August, the government launched a 10-year National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development to strengthen institutions at all levels of government, transferring power from ministries in Phnom Penh to more outlying areas of the country.

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