Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmakers open talks on budget

Lawmakers open talks on budget

Lawmakers open talks on budget

First debate session focuses on higher defence spending

DEBATE over sharp increases in defence spending dominated the first day of talks on the 2009 national budget draft Monday at the National Assembly, with opposition lawmakers criticising the influx of money for the military as being poorly allocated.

Amid concerns for national defence sparked by the ongoing territorial dispute with Thailand, the government has proposed increasing military spending by 64 percent to more than US$218 million next year.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua criticised the defence plan, saying the funds would be better used in agriculture, rural development and women's affairs.

"The SRP agrees with the increase in the national budget for defence ... but what will this increase be used for?" she asked during a question period.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, however, said it was crucial to raise the salaries of the Kingdom's security forces, adding that the government would be criticised for whatever decision it took.

"We are always asked to increase the salaries for the military and police, so now we are increasing them," he said. "When we don't raise them, they criticise us. Now, when we raise the salaries, they still make criticisms."

National Assembly President Heng Samrin told reporters after the session that the new budget was aimed at improving living conditions for Cambodian soldiers.

"Ammunition is not our concern. We waged war for years until we got peace and independence, so our current increase is due to the poor living conditions of our armed forces," he said.

Eighty-five out of the 105 lawmakers present voted to pass the first of the budget law's five chapters.

If approved in its entirety, the budget will total about $1.8 billion - an increase of 28 percent on 2008, according to Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Commission of Economy, Finance, Banking and Auditing. Debate continues today.

Related Story

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all