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Experts call for increased relief funds in 2012

Cambodia's proposed US$2.69 billion budget law for public spending in 2012 should see increased allocation to ministries that assist in flood recovery, experts said.

Past national budgets have underspent on allocations to the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Resources, Chea Kimsong, manager of the development issues program at the NGO Forum, said yesterday.

“What I hope is that when the budget for 2012 [is finalised], there will at least be an increase above the average increase in these areas,” he said.

Although spending at the three ministries has risen in the past five years, Chea Kimsong said raised expenditures should continue in order to combat flood damages that the National Committee for Disaster Management put at more than $100 million.

The 2012 budget law draft, which the Council of Ministers approved last week, said allocations will be made to enhance flood-damaged infrastructure.

Overspending on recurrent budgets – primarily wages and the procurement of goods – have continued to usurp funds that should go to the country’s neediest populations, Chea Kimsong said.

“Overspending may exhaust funding available for priority ministries,” he said, adding that the overall implementation of past budgets has been adequate.

At the same time, the draft law of the budget will seek to maintain economic growth above 7 per cent by enhancing milled rice exports, garment manufacturing and tourism.

Previous national budgets have effectively promoted the tourism industry through international marketing stints, Mohan Gunti, an advisor to the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said.

“We can see that this kind of expenditure has had a direct effect on promoting tourism,” he said.

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