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Budget barter

Cambodia’s newly established Anti-Corruption Unit plans to request .02 percent of next year’s budget, or $US480,000, to fund its activities.

The unit, which hopes to initiate its operations at the beginning of next year, now employs 60 staffers and will retain 500 when it is operating at full capacity, ACU permanent member Sar Sambath has said.

The ACU hoped to submit its strategic plan to the government for approval by November, he said at a meeting with donors in Phnom Penh.

“The unit is going to propose to the government that we receive .02 percent, but we are still in the process of proposing.”

Last week, the Council of Ministers approved a draft budget for 2011 of US$2.4 billion that is awaiting approval from the National Assembly.

If the ACU’s request for 0.02 percent of that sum is granted, it would receive $480,000.
Tony Kwok Man-wai, the former deputy commissioner of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, said in March that anticorruption budgets should ideally be pegged at around 0.33 percent of the overall budget, though regionally, anticorruption outlays typically sit closer to 0.01 percent.
Sar Sambath did not provide detailed information on how the ACU would spend its funds, while ACU head Om Yentieng and spokesman Keo Remy could not be reached for comment.
Theodore Allegra, the deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy, said at the meeting that donors had inquired about the ACU’s plans for budget, staffing and strategy as they made plans to cooperate with the unit.
“The development partners would like to work with the government in combating corruption and strengthening the new ACU,” Allegra said.
He called the March passage of the Kingdom’s first Anticorruption Law a “major achievement” and said donors “look forward to the robust implementation of this important piece of fundamental legislation”.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that he did not have information on how the ACU’s budgetary request would be assessed. National Assembly Banking and Finance Committee chairman Cheam Yeap could not be reached for comment.
In March, the Anticorruption Law was passed without amendment by the National Assembly over the objections of opposition lawmakers, who walked out on the vote in protest.



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