PM May Cut Council of Ministers Committees

Prime Minister Hun Sen plans to scrap several authorities and committees controlled by the Council of Ministers in the next mandate, government officials said.

The premier told senior officials in late January that many of the bodies are duplicating efforts in the ministries and are now useless, one Council of Ministers official said Tuesday.

“He asked the Council of Min­isters to select or choose who is important, and maybe keep them. Others not so important, [we] eliminate,” the official said.

Ministers, especially from Funcinpec, have at times complained that the authorities— which deal with everything from electricity to AIDS—hijack im­portant decisions and should be folded into the ministries. Funcinpec officials say the move is one demand submitted to the CPP in their negotiations to form a new government.

“Now the power will be vested in the Funcinpec ministers,” said Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Ok Socheat on Tuesday. “Our ministers couldn’t do anything.”

Some authorities—including the National AIDS Authority and a committee on demobilization— have also been criticized over misprocurement and weak financial systems, and one CPP official who requested anonymity said last week that Hun Sen’s directive was the result of donor pressure.

Government officials gave varying accounts of how many committees had been formed under Senior Minister Sok An’s guidance. One official said as many as 48 had been formed, while others said there are about half that number.

Hun Sen reportedly said the tourism authority was an example of a now purposeless body.

The National AIDS Authority and Apsara Authority, which also oversees tourism, were offered as authorities that still had significance and should not be scrap­ped, the Council of Ministers official said. No decision has been made on how many or which authorities will be eliminated, he added.

Ngo Hongly, who heads the UN Development Programme’s administration reform program which works closely with Sok An, did not return several phone calls to his office Monday and last week.


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