Salaries to Drive 16 Percent Increase in Government Spending

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved the government’s budget for 2017, which would see spending increase by 15.6 percent overall due mostly to rising wages of state employees including soldiers, it said in a statement released on Friday.

Total spending is expected to be just under $5 billion, up from about $4.27 billion this year and $3.8 billion last year. The bill will need to be passed in the CPP-controlled National Assembly before coming into force.

The defense and security sectors are to receive about $824.6 million next year, a 20.4 percent increase on this year, while the social sector is allotted about $1.19 billion, up about 12.7 percent, according to the statement, which did not give a more detailed budget breakdown.

Officially called the Draft Law on 2017 Financial Management, the statement said the budget was prepared to ensure “peace, territorial integrity, national unity and the political stability that comes from the win-win policy.”

The bulk of the spending increases in the new bill are meant to al­low for across-the-board raises to the salaries of state employees, which have seen significant increases—albeit from a very low base—since the 2013 national election.

Many have said the pay rises are meant to shore up support among civil servants after the ruling party was rattled by a tight election three years ago.

“The 2017 budget was calculated and designed to ensure the mechanism of reform and readjust and align the goals of reform in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people,” Friday’s state­ment said.

The Council of Ministers also passed a 10-year plan for strategic development of the financial sector on Friday, but a copy of the plan was not immediately available. The council’s spokesman, Phay Siphan, could not be reached.

Opposition lawmakers, who have not attended a session of parliament in months in protest of legal cases against their colleagues, have long complained about a lack of details in government budgets and transparency in state spending.

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