NGOs: Health, Education Ignored by Gov’t

NGOs monitoring the dispersal of government funds to provincial health departments and the Mi­nis­ter of Health said Sunday that most health centers have not yet re­ceived funding for 2005.

The revelation of poor progress in the disbursement of funds to priority ministries came as part of a statement issued Friday by the NGO Committee for the Mo­ni­toring of CG Benchmarks.

In the statement, local NGOs said that the dispersal problem al­so ap­plied to education, and that hu­man rights have deteriorated since De­cem­ber’s Consultative Group Mee­ting with donors.

A government-donor committee will meet this week to measure progress on reforms agreed in De­cember, including better funding of social ministries.

“Salary for January was paid by the end of January. Nothing was paid for February yet. Most prov­inces say they have not received operational costs for 2005,” said Sin So­mu­ny, executive director of health NGO coalition Me­di­cam.

“Although the health centers can run programs, I do not think they are able to run them at full-scale,” Sin Somuny said.

Minister of Health Nuth Sok­hom said that health programs can still operate according to sche­d­­ule, but payments are de­layed. “Every year at the beginning of the year this is a problem,” he said.

“We are optimistic after the re­cent statements of the Ministry of Economy and Finance that they will soon have regulations that will facilitate access to the funds,” he said, adding: “But…it is already March and they are not able to access the funds.”

For years, the health and education sectors have failed to spend their budgets, while ministries such as the Ministry of In­te­ri­or have overspent.

Thun Saray, president of rights group Adhoc, said that progress on new basic laws has been good. He also said NGOs are waiting to see whether Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on corrupt judges will become system-wide.

“If they just try this for a show or to remove a few people who do not belong to the strong group… that is another story,” he added.


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