NEC Spent $1.5 Million Less Than Budgeted

The National Election Commit­tee spent some $1.5 million less than it was allotted for last year’s parliamentary elections, according to a committee draft report.

About $500,000 of the windfall was re­turned to the Finance Min­is­try, and the rest was ab­sorbed in­to a UN trust fund, NEC spokes­­­­man Leng Sochea said.

Much of the savings were ac­crued by cutting the number of pol­ling station officers and counting center employees, he said.

The Cambodia Daily reported last month that the NEC vastly overspent its budget, but the provisional document cited in that article did not account for all its reve­nue sources. About $5.75 million for the elections came from donor countries, mostly through the UN De­velopment Program. The gov­ern­ment allotted over $6 million.

The report, which will eventually go to the National Assembly, shows the committee spent $10,397,293 of $11,976,332 re­ceived to organize and administer the elections.

The elections cost significantly less than in 1998, when total spend­ing was about $30 million, but NEC officials predicted that the next general election in 2008 would be more expensive—mostly because new trucks, mo­tor­bikes and technical equipment will need to be purchased.

“The next elections will cost more money, because last year most of the election materials were left over from 1998,” NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said.

Tep Nitha said the committee was appealing to keep some of last year’s money to update the vo­ter registration list and computer equipment.

Some questioned why the mo­ney did not go to voter registration before the election. Regis­tra­tion problems have been consistently cited by the opposition and election observers as a black mark on last year’s polls.

The NEC “always argues that they don’t have enough money for the voter registration or voter education programs…. I don’t know why they spend less,” said Koul Pan­ha, director of the Com­mit­­tee for Free and Fair Elec­tions.

(Ad­ditional reporting by Yun Samean)


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