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Govt invites budget input

THE National Assembly is seeking input from local and international stakeholders on a draft of the 2009 National Budget Law, which allocates US$2 billion in state funds, including large increases for the military.

The NGO Forum on Cambodia requested that a public forum be held on November 20, before lawmakers debate the draft law in early December, said CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap.

"We are inviting all stakeholders, including international organisations, government representatives, members of parliament and students [to take part]," he said.

In the draft law, the military budget has been doubled to about US$500 million.

NGO Forum deputy executive director Ngy San said the organisation had asked for a copy of the draft budget in order to make recommendations before the Assembly debate.

"Civil society is ready to join the workshop and will share some ideas with the National Assembly," he said.  

But Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said the Assembly should implement procedures allowing the participation of opposition parties, rather than just a single day of talks with civil society groups.

"Last year, the Ministry of Defence wasted a lot of the national budget, so they have to review before adding to the military's budget," he said.

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