Salaries for tens of thousands of members of Cambodia’s armed forces have still not been paid for February, a delay that Defense Minister Tea Banh said Tuesday was due to a recent increase in pay for RCAF soldiers.
“Recently, our government has increased the bonuses, which is why it has taken a long time to calculate and prepare paperwork to send to the Ministry of Finance for approval,” the minister said, adding that the delay involved “no irreglar activities” with the soldiers wages. “They will be paid within this month,” Tea Banh added.
The government, in a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 12, granted a monthly $5 bonus to all soldiers, police, veterans and active and retired civil servants. The bonuses were in addition to employees’ monthly salaries to “support their living standard,” the subdecree stated. It also stated that the monthly bonuses were to be paid through the end of 2009.
Ho Vann, a lawmaker with the opposition SRP, said the delays were a result of negligence and he called on the government to provide even further raises for the country’s soldiers.
“It proves the carelessness of government and the Ministry of National Defense,” he said of the pay delay.
“At a time when the country is being invaded and soldiers are stationed along the border to protect the country and territory, they have their small amount of salary delayed,” he added.
The soldiers’ salaries are approximately $25 to $30 each month, Ho Vann said, adding that the recent $5 bonus is not adequate to cover the cost of goods that continue to increase in price.
Ho Vann also said that the government officials responsible for the delayed pay to troops should be punished.