PM’s Cabinet Swells by More Than One-Third

With the approval of the appointment of the government’s undersecretaries of state, the size of the prime minister’s cabinet for the newly begun mandate has balloon­ed by more than 35 percent compared with the government that took office in 2004.

According to a Sept 25 royal de­cree signed by King Norodom Si­hamoni, a copy of which was ob­tained Wednesday, the government now has 205 undersecretaries of state—up from 141.

When combined with the 239 in­dividuals holding deputy prime minister, senior minister, minister or secretary of state positions, it brings the total size of Prime Min­ister Hun Sen’s cabinet to 444 people. Following the formation of the third mandate government in 2004, there were just 327 senior level ap­pointees in the cabinet.

The expansion sees the typical number of secretaries and undersecretaries of state per ministry growing from five to seven. The Council of Ministers leads the pack when it comes to inflation of senior posts with 16 secretary of state positions, double the eight individuals it had holding that position in the last mandate.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Wednesday that the government has expanded both in the name of national reconciliation and in order to better carry out the state’s development plans.

“We want to encourage those officials who have helped the government,” Cheam Yeap said of all the newly promoted appointees.

“I acknowledge that we must spend more money [on salaries], but we will receive more benefit. I have confidence with Samdech’s [Hun Sen’s] wisdom, as he has been leading since the 1980s,” he said. He added that under the Constitution it is the prime minister’s prerogative to appoint whomever he sees fit.

Though they ended up with significantly fewer positions than in the previous mandate, the chief benefactor of the new appointments may be the CPP’s junior partner Funcinpec.

The royalist party landed 54 senior positions in the new government, according to Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay. This works out to about one secretary and one undersecretary of state in each ministry, which is what the party had asked of the CPP.

Funcinpec may have lost all its minister posts and 54 is a little less than half of the senior positions it held just a year ago, but considering that the party lost all but two of the 26 seats it held in the National Assembly it did disproportionately well in the appointment process.

“The CPP will play a major role in the government while Funcinpec is participating in the government,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said, adding that he is hopeful that his party will be able to snag positions as provincial governors, in various national authorities or as government advisers.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said that there may be many more people in the cabinet, but that it is essentially a collection of the same faces that have been in government for ages.

“In general, there haven’t been any changes,” she said.

“They don’t talk about the qualifications of officials… There is no work efficiency,” she said. “We don’t need that big cabinet, we should narrow the government,” she added, suggesting that the money needed for extra senior officials should be put towards raising the salaries of lower lever government employees or healthcare.



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