Lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party yesterday unanimously voted to pass legislation which will create three new government ministries.
Sixty-six CPP representatives voted to create a Ministry of Public Function, which will oversee the affairs of civil servants.
The MPs also followed through on a floated plan to split the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, creating two separate entities: the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts.
Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, said splitting up the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy would enable officials to get more work done.
“Our country is developing all sectors, therefore it is necessary to control the human resources, particularly the civil servants,” Yeap said. “I supported the new ministries.”
The opposition has in the past criticised the proposed move, saying it would do little to improve efficiency and would only create more bureaucracy.
Opposition lawmakers could not be reached for comment about the new ministries. Chheang Vun, one of the CPP lawmakers who voted on the bills, said high local production costs of handicrafts had led to imports from China, Vietnam and Thailand flooding tourist hot-spots such as Angkor Wat.
The new handicrafts ministry would work to promote local crafts, he added.
“In my estimation, only about 20 per cent of local souvenir production for tourists [is done in Cambodia] due to the high production costs. We have to focus on industry and handicrafts,” Vun said. “We have to encourage small industry.”
The newly appointed Minister of Public Function, Pich Bunthin, addressed the National Assembly following the approval of the creation of his ministry.
“From now on, the government has a new tool: an additional ministry, to lead and control our officials to be good and accordance with the government’s policy,” he said. “I promise I will accept all recommendations to work with the demands of our civil servants nationwide.”
Civil servants are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with low salaries, according to analysts, leading many to vote for the opposition in July’s election.