Prime Minister Hun Sen railed at ineffective and inefficient government at a conference on government reform in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, saying some ministries have a surplus of unqualified staff and need to be downsized.
“We have a surplus of incompetent officials and a shortage of competent officials,” he said, but did not specify which areas of government need to be changed.
“I agree with the reduction of a field that is not necessary through retirement and no recruitment,” he said, adding that teachers and doctors were an exception.
“We need to increase numbers of teachers and doctors,” he said. To do so the government should hire on the basis of merit, he said.
“We cannot have nepotism in the recruitment of government officials,” he told a room of hundreds of government officials.
Some civil servants can improve, he said, but for others, there is no hope.
“If they come with capacity, it is OK, but it is not OK when they come without capacity.”
In the hour-and-a-half speech, which ended a two-day conference aimed at creating a 2009 to 2013 government reform plan, he said Cambodia, despite problems, had made progress.
“There is nothing perfect in this world,” Hun Sen said. “Even Buddha or Jesus or Allah or Hindu. If Buddha is perfect, there is no reason to have all the religions.”
The prime minister also cited a recent International Republican Institute study that found that about 80 percent of Cambodians think their country is heading in the right direction.
“Because of what?” he asked the audience. “Not because of you destroying the people. You must have been doing something right for the people.”
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said the problem of too many unqualified government officials being appointed for political reasons is longstanding and has been pointed out by the SRP many times.
“Some officials [also] have to do another business since they cannot support their family with their government salary,” he added.