NEC Chairman Laments a Lack of Funding

The National Election Com­mission’s chairman says the NEC has not received money from the government or international do­nors to prepare for next year’s commune election.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done right now, but I don’t know where the funding to do that work is,” Chheng Phon said this week.

Chheng Phon said he will write to the government to request money for the NEC’s budget. He added it was the government’s res­ponsibility to seek funding from foreigners, not the NEC’s.

Cost estimates for next Feb­ruary’s first-ever local elections have ranged from $20 million to $30 million. The government has pledged to pay 10 percent.

One NEC official compared the NEC to a car that must go all the way to Sihanoukville, but only has gas to go to Pochentong Airport. Currently, the NEC relies on funding from the government’s reserve budget, the official said.

Funding must be secured soon to give the NEC the full 11 months it needs for election prep­arations.

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng met donors last week at the Ministry of Interior to discuss preparations. He said a future meeting would deal with funding.

Elections in more than 1,600 communes are scheduled for Feb 3. The NEC will have to hire clerks in each commune, establish 24 provincial election commissions and set up 12,000 voter registration stations.

Japanese Ambassador Gotaro Og­­awa said Thursday that the UN Development Program is coordinating international donor dis­cussions on funding for the election.

He said there is not yet a timeline for determining when money would be pledged and turned over to the government.

According to the NEC, Ger­many has promised to donate a $1 million computer system.


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