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Census reveals extent of 'ghost civil servants'

The government discovered more than 4,000 “ghost civil servants” – employees being paid a salary without having to show up for work – during an analysis of the state’s payroll that began early last year, an official at the Council of Ministers said yesterday.

“We have found more than 4,000 ghost civil servants,” said Ngo Hongly, secretary general of the Council for Administrative Reform at the Council of Ministers. This total, he said, was uncovered during analysis last year that concluded in December and includes officials at both the national and the provincial level, though not those in the police or military.

“We will save around US$4 million annually for the government by deleting the more than 4,000 ghost civil servants from the payroll,” Ngo Hongly said.

“We will continue this search indefinitely, though our plan is not yet set.”

Last November, senior ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the government had discovered 30,000 ghost civil servants including those in the police and military, though he clarified yesterday that this total came from analysis between 1996 and 2005 and not last year.

A 1995 census uncovered roughly 18,000 ghost civil servants, while a census conducted in 2000 and 2001 revealed about 9,000 ghost civil servants.

“These ghost soldiers and ghost civil servants were listed only so that they could collect salaries, so stopping this will give us the budget to increase salaries for other officials,” Cheam Yeap said.

“Those who are responsible for this will not be forgiven and will face the court.”

There were 176,829 civil servants on the government payroll as of February last year, according to the Council of Ministers. The average salary of these workers was $81 per month.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann welcomed the efforts to ferret out ghost civil servants, though he called for the government to follow through with prosecutions of the worst offenders.

“They must arrest those officials who hide the names of ghost civil servants and ghost soldiers,” he said yesterday.

“If these corrupt officials are not punished, how much money will we lose from the national budget?”

Last year’s civil servant census was established via a circular signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in March, according to a statement released at the time by the Council of Ministers.

Civil servants in the census were required to be present at their offices on the day of their inspections, receiving identification cards after filling out questionnaires and having their personal information “correctly checked and verified through the computer system”, the statement said.



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