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Investigate pensions: PM

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has requested further information as to why former government employees and the disabled have not been receiving benefits, following an order from Prime Minister Hun Sen Friday that the Anti-Corruption Unit investigate the issue.

Hem Bora, director of the national fund for veterans at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said yesterday that there were an estimated 94,000 retired government workers, including a large number from the ministries of Defence and Interior, on the government’s payroll.

“We have been assigned by the minister of social affairs [Ith Sam Heng] to make a clear report about the budget supporting the salary of retirees … and we will also try to find out a reason why we could not pay them,” he said.

Hun Sen asked the ACU to investigate the issue and the Council of Ministers to ensure former government employees and the disabled receive pensions regularly and on time during Friday’s Council of Minister’s meeting.

“[Hun Sen] suggested that the Anti-Corruption Unit has to investigate and take legal action to punish any official that impedes or affects the transparency of the national budget to support the disabled and retired officials,” said a Council of Ministers statement released Friday.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that Hun Sen ordered the investigation after receiving individual complaints and seeing local media reports.

Last week, three teachers filed a complaint to the Ministry of Social Affairs saying they had not received their pensions 14 months after retiring.

Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, said the problem was widespread and linked to corruption.

Hem Bora said yesterday he was unsure of the cause of the problem.

“In some cases, there are new retirees who have been transferred [from other ministries] but have not been added to the list for payment before the budget package was approved.”

Hem Bora said officials had been punished or warned by the ministry for abusing the pension system in the past, but the issue may linger.

“Some officials have tried to take benefit from our retirement pensions by buying and selling, such as a veteran who died but whose name remained on the list to receive a monthly pension,” Hem Bora said.

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