Sar Kheng Pledges Better NGO Cooperation

Amid complaints from NGOs that public officials make their jobs more difficult, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng pledged the government’s cooperation with the agencies.

Participants at an NGO fair in Phnom Penh last week raised concerns about a planned new law governing NGOs and associations, but Sar Kheng said the law would benefit the agencies.

“It is not going to limit their activities but help with their jobs as partners of government in limiting poverty,” he told the audience Friday.

Carol Strickler, executive director of Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said she has heard repeated complaints that senior officials seldom agree to meet with NGO representatives on the grounds they are too busy.

Sar Kheng said such excuses are “not proper” and promised to work to improve ties between government and aid agencies.

Sar Kheng, who is also co-mi­nister of interior, said he has willingly registered more than 800 NGOs and international organizations. “It is a big mistake to say there are too many NGOs. I ne­ver think so.

“NGOs are necessary partners of the government in all do­mains,” he said.

But the event’s organizers said the government should have shown its good faith by giving a better rental rate on Chaktomuk Theater, where the two-day fair was held.

The $3,000 fee was meant to cover the cost of electricity and cleaning, but participants griped the price was too high.

“I hope with closer cooperation as pledged by the government, the next fair will be less expensive,” said a representative from Women for Prosperity, who asked not to be named.

Event organizer Yoib Meta said the fair, which drew NGOs from across the country cost $17,500—$3,300 more than its budget.


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