NEC Still Awaits Ministry Payroll Transfer

The National Election Com­mittee is still waiting for a transfer of $1 million from the Ministry of Finance so it can meet its July payroll today, an NEC official said Tuesday.

Without the money, some 15,000 NEC employees could go unpaid.

NEC finance committee Chair­­man Chhay Kim said he ex­pects the money to come through today.

“The minister of finance [Keat Chhon] told me this afternoon that it would come maybe tomorrow,” Chhay Kim said Tuesday. “We are a little worried, but he promised to give it to us.”

Chhay Kim said the ministry has been asking for detailed reports on NEC spending before releasing the funds.

“Maybe [Keat Chhon] would like to know how we spend the money, or how much we spend for the salary and expenditures,” Chhay Kim said.

The government has pledged to give $5 million to fund the elections, which are projected to cost about $27 million. International donors are making up the rest of the cost, but the NEC says it is still about $5 million short and has appealed for more donations.

So far, the government has transferred roughly $3 million into the NEC’s account, Chhay Kim said. He said that the monthly payroll is about $1 million and that the committee cannot pull money from international donors’ funds to pay employees.

“That money has a special target. We cannot use that,” he said.

It was unclear Tuesday if the expenditure reports were the sole reason for delaying the money transfer. There have been persistent rumors that the government is out of cash, but Chhay Kim said he was confident the government would find the money.

“We know our government  lacks money but for the expense of the election it has to spend the money,” he said.

A Finance Ministry official contacted Tuesday said that only Keat Chhon could speak on the issue.

Keat Chhon could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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