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Decree prohibits pension-buying

THE Council of Ministers has approved a draft of a Royal decree prohibiting the purchase of military pensions by middlemen, a practice that Prime Minister Hun Sen criticised in a speech last week.

A statement issued Friday by the council said the purpose of the decree is to “improve the effective management and implementation of pensions” by ensuring that they are paid “quickly and transparently” to their designated recipients.

Prak Chanthoeun, director general of the Social Affairs Ministry, said he could not provide statistics concerning how many pensions are purchased each year, but said that “many” veterans sell theirs in order to receive a large payment each year rather than smaller payments each month. In such transactions, middlemen customarily keep a portion of each pension for themselves.

He said the decree did not call for the punishment of middlemen or veterans caught flouting the ban.

Speaking at the National Veterans Conference last Monday, Hun Sen said there are more than 90,000 veterans drawing pensions that support a total of 260,000 people, costing the government 6.4 billion riels (about US$1,523,809) each month.

He also issued a warning to middlemen in the pension-buying business. “I would like to appeal to the middlemen who bought the salary books of veterans: Please return them generously to the veterans or sell them back at the proper price,” he said.

The decree is next set to be debated at the National Assembly.

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