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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP mulls ministerial cuts in policy draft

Opposition leader Kem Sokha (centre) talks to CNRP lawmakers about policy proposals at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Photo supplied
Opposition leader Kem Sokha (centre) talks to CNRP lawmakers about policy proposals at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Photo supplied

CNRP mulls ministerial cuts in policy draft

The Cambodia National Rescue Party would reduce the number of ministries in government, cut the number of secretaries of state in each ministry from five to two and eliminate all undersecretaries of state if it ever wins power, according to an opposition policy draft obtained yesterday.

The document does not specify which ministries could be cut or merged, but says the CNRP would aim to run a more “neat” government – without the top-heaviness in the ministries created when a 2004 deal for a coalition government significantly increased the number of high-ranking ministry positions

“To achieve the above target, a neat royal government led by the CNRP would arrange the Council of Ministers to have a smaller composition, but there would be real responsibility, capability and effectiveness, with high leadership,” the document says.

It also suggests there would be no more “co-ministers” – as appeared in coalition governments between the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec between 1993 and 2005 – and that each ministry would no longer have five secretaries of state and at least as many undersecretaries of state.

“Each ministry would be limited to one minister and only two secretaries of state. The title of ‘undersecretary of state’ must be deleted,” it says.CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment on the document, saying it was not yet an official part of party policy.

“We need to correct it more,” he said. “This is just a temporary draft.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said it was the prerogative of the opposition to propose changes to the government, and the ruling party had no particular problem with the CNRP’s proposal.

“We cannot think one side is right and one side is wrong. What he says is up to him. If he wants to create one ministry with one minister and no assistants, that’s OK,” he said. “It’s up to the understanding of each party.”

Besides appointing “co-ministers” from each party in the ministries of interior and defence, the June 2004 coalition deal between the CPP and Funcinpec increased the number of secretaries of state – a rank equivalent to vice minister – from two to five in order to create more roles to divvy up.

Prime Minister Hun Sen eliminated Funcinpec’s “co-ministers” the following year, but each ministry retained the additional secretaries of state.

Meas Ny, an independent political analyst, said the proposal to cut the number of top positions in the ministries would appeal to the public, and that he could even see it being adopted by the CPP.

“A political platform arranged like this is appropriate, and I think that if the CNRP propagated this platform widely . . . the ruling party might consider it too, because we can recognise that nowadays some government positions should not have been created,” Ny said.

“They were created just to have titles for everyone and to receive salaries from the state.”

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