PM Launches Overhaul of Gov’t Finance

Prime Minister Hun Sen an­nounced a public finance man­age­­ment overhaul on Sun­day, as the government prepared to submit its request for more financial assistance from international donors at today’s Consultative Group meeting.

At a ceremony at the Council for Development of Cambodia, Hun Sen vowed to adopt higher standards of management and accountability of government resources.

“Reform is a life and death is­sue for the Royal Government,” the prime minister said.

The four-part reform program aims to create a more “credible” national budget, establish effective financial accountability, set up an affordable and prioritized government policy agenda, and make government leaders accountable for the performance of their programs, according to a copy of the plan. Hun Sen also took the opportunity to outline the government’s achievements and to make a pre-emptive plea to do­nors for continued assistance.

Reform, he said, has been occurring since the 1980s.

“The [government] has continuously achieved remarkable

outcome especially in the area of economic liberalization and stabilization,” he said.

Hun Sen added that during the early 1990s, the economy grew on average about six to seven percent annually, but made no mention of the World Bank’s projection last month that growth will slow to 2.5 percent next year

“I would like to ask development partners to continue supporting and providing technical expertise, financial assets, equipment, and other supports as required to the Cambodian party” to help poverty reduction, Hun Sen said.

In the run-up to the two-day CG meeting, which begins today, NGOs and civil society groups have called for donors to pressure the government to implement long-awaited reforms and have criticized the prime minister for not reaching benchmarks set at previous CG meetings.

At a meeting last week, NGOs and civil society groups charged that foreign assistance has failed to produce results, as corruption, poverty and human rights abuses remain widespread.

Despite a report by the International Monetary Fund in August, which noted the country’s excessive bureaucracy, weak governance and poor infrastructure, a senior IMF official on Sunday vowed to provide more technical assistance to the government.

“This form of partnership is nascent, and will require sustained attention and constant commitment on our side. You can count on us,” Robert Hagemann, resident representative of the IMF said in a speech at the ceremony.

Hagemann warned, however, that the government would meet resistance to its reform program, which, he said, will require political will. “Having said this, how can we go wrong?” he said. “Success is in the making.”

Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who attended Sunday’s meeting, said the financial management program will be implemented over a number of years, with the goal of having all ministries and government agencies reach international standards of public financial management by 2015.

The implementation of the program, which will include computerized accounting of government transactions and require the National Audit Authority to disclose audits to the public, will occur “step by step,” Keat Chhon said in a speech.



Related Stories

Latest News