Senate Debt Mounts as Stalemate Continues

The Senate is sunk in debt, its chief administrator wrote in a letter last week.

Unable to secure government funds because of the political deadlock, the body of senior politicians has borrowed from private sources to pay for its general functions, said Secretary-General Oum Sarith.

“Civil servants have difficulty in getting paid for their social budget, for travel, bonuses, repairs, office stationary and various administration costs,” Oum Sarith wrote in a Jan 13 letter to Senate leaders, including President Chea Sim.

“But despite this hardship, the secretariat general has tried its best to handle important affairs responsibly and properly,” he continued. “For the Senate to function to this day, the secretariat general has incurred debt to many parts of the private sector, for water supply, electricity, petrol and telephone costs.”

Oum Sarith’s comments were the first admission by a high-ranking official that a deadlock entering its sixth month had dealt an economic blow to the stalled government. As the CPP and the Alliance of Democrats remain at a standstill, the Senate and National Assembly have been unable to conduct legislative business.

But the Senate rarely meets and is criticized by many as a nonfunctioning funding source for wealthy politicians. They collect $1,000 per month and also receive fringe benefits in the form of cars and other luxuries.

Administrative costs at the Senate run about $2,500 a month, Oum Sarith said by telephone Tuesday night.

He would not say how much debt the Senate had incurred and downplayed his statements in the letter.

“When there is political difficulty, there is also financial difficulty…. We just owed some money for ordering some stationary, but not so much,” he said. He added that senators were paid Jan 5.

“This is not serious. It is a normal problem for any administration,” Oum Sarith said.

Assembly parliamentarians, who also earn $1,000 a month, have not been paid since the July 27 elections, said Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Keo Remy.


Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.