Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Keep those receipts: gov’t

Keat Chhon, permanent deputy prime minister, talks at a 2012 finance meeting in Phnom Penh.
Keat Chhon, permanent deputy prime minister, talks at a 2012 finance meeting in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Keep those receipts: gov’t

Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon has demanded officials reveal just how much they are spending on state-funded trips overseas and what those trips are accomplishing, a move observers said was a long overdue bid for accountability in an often-abused system.

In a letter dated July 10 and endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chhon advised the heads of all public ministries and public institutions to review their sending of workers overseas and set out a three-point initiative to counter abuses and inefficiency.

The circular, however, failed to reveal figures for any specific budget blowouts on overseas jaunts that may have prompted the reforms.

Contacted yesterday, Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections spokesman Huot Hak said his department – which audits ministries’ expenditure – had found “a number of irregularities” concerning publicly funded overseas trips, mostly related to officials not submitting receipts for expenses.

Declining to reveal figures, he played down their significance, however, saying there were only “a few issues” and that his department had recommended “corrections” to improve the concerned ministries in the coming years.

Explaining the background yesterday, government spokesman Phay Siphan said he believed that “Excellency Keat Chhon has met problems in this field of work and he wants to see transparency and accountability”.

Among the measures, Chhon tells government bodies to ensure that technical staff accompany political officials abroad to make sure qualified people are involved in delegations.

He also ordered ministry heads to specify the number of travellers and exact source of funding in all requests for official overseas trips.

And in the case of using a state loan for travel, officials must also detail the amount set aside for planned and emergency expenses.

Those figures must then be included in the ministry’s budget, the document states.

Further, to assess their effectiveness, Chhon requested ministers and institution heads complete a short report summarising the outcome of each mission.

Welcoming what he called belated measures, Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Son Chhay, vice president of the Finance and Audit Commission, said officials often spend more cash than necessary on official trips.

“Some who came back were not able to share what they have learned. This is a waste,” Chhay said, adding that the new measures should also be applied to parliamentarians and senators.

Transparency International executive director Preap Kol said he had previously accompanied officials abroad on a joint mission and observed some being “careless” and blowing off official duties to sightsee and shop.

He added: “Also, officials mostly lack knowledge of the English language, meaning they cannot carry out the missions completely. I think there should be consideration of this point as well.”



Please, login or register to post a comment
savath.pou's picture

Regardless of their political affiliation, Cambodian government officials these days don't want to learn anything from anybody. All they want is this: being on the RGC Cabinet payroll, holding His/Her Excellency titles, sitting on fat revolving chairs, presiding over meaningless ministerial meetings, escorting the Head of the RGC to wherever he goes in order to show off their face on national TVs and looking for handshakes with private companies.
Do they want to learn some foreign languages such as English, French, Chinese or Japanese to improve their communication ability with their foreign counterparts? NO
Do they want to learn some basic computer skills? NO
Do they want to do further studies in order to broaden their knowledge base? NO
Do they care about the huge discrepancy between their position and their academic skills? NO
Do they care about the efficiency and the productivity they can bring to the government while on the RGC payroll? NO
Do they care about the fierce criticism from the public either local or foreign on the world renowned bloating government? NO
Finally, are they ashamed of themselves for their ineptitude? NO
What do they really want then? They simply want to rip the system and the country off for their personal gain, period.
In my opinion, therefore, state-funded trips overseas, except for diplomatic missions, important international conferences and visits of the Head of the RGC, should be totally banned from now on.
Sydney, 6 August 2015.
Savath Pou,
Senator Expelled.

Latest Video

Turkish Embassy calls for closure of Zaman schools

With an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Erdogan quashed only days ago and more than 7,000 alleged conspirators now under arrest, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia yesterday pressed the govern

CNRP lawmakers beaten

Two opposition lawmakers, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh, as over a thousand protesters descended upon the National Assembly.

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Students at Phnom Penh's Liger Learning Center have written and published a new book, "The Cambodian Economy".