Sar Kheng Predicts Difficulties For Commune Administration

New administrations created by the upcoming commune elections will “inevitably” struggle, a top government official has warned.

Many communes in Cambodia are isolated from economically successful towns, and may find it hard to survive on their own, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday.

Addition­ally, even economically independent communes will face new struggles, as they for the first time tackle economic life in a post-election world, Sar Kheng said Thursday at a seminar on the workings of the National Com­munal Supporting Commit­tee.

As dictated by the communal administration law, all 1,621 communes across the country will not be financially supported by the central government, but are supposed to be self-sufficient. For communes whose areas have lucrative industries, such as Phnom Penh or Poipet, it will be easier for the new communal administration, Sar Kheng said.

But other areas, with little to gather for their local budget, will find life hard in an era of decentralized, grass roots government. Sar Kheng said the budget problems a new administration will face “can affect the success of the decentralization.”

He stressed he wants to see more regulations and laws written to facilitate better management.

The deputy prime minister said he is considering a plan to form a joint council, made up of several communal councils.

“Maybe, by having such a joint council, commune councils can help each other to live together,” Sar Kheng said.

According to government officials, a UNDP-funded program is considering spending another $20 million on grass roots developments, mostly targeting the decentralization policies for the new commune councils.


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