The National Assembly plans to trim its bloated staff rolls, long accused of being a hot spot for nepotistic appointments and stacked with so-called “ghost workers”, a parliamentary spokesman said yesterday.
The announcement comes after opposition party whip Son Chhay has in recent weeks publicly drawn attention to alleged corruption and widespread inefficiency at the assembly.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Cambodian People’s Party senior lawmaker Chheang Vun, who also serves as an assembly spokesman, said he had asked the parliament’s personnel director to rid the assembly of “incompetent” staffers and workers that have reached retirement age.
“I have demanded deep reforms since 1992 when I returned from France. If we want qualified officials, we have to pay more. But if we do not pay more, they will go elsewhere, and so our civil servants are increasingly weak,” he said.
“And if our civil servants provide bad services, we will be the slaves of ASEAN [after economic integration], so I think that those who are not very good will be asked to leave the National Assembly and we will prepare a [financial] package for them to leave.”
Vun said outgoing staffers would receive 80 per cent of their monthly salary for 10 months after they stop work.
“We cannot let them go empty-handed,” he said, before making reference to the hundreds of ghost employees that are believed to clog the assembly’s staffing lists and have been a particular point of concern for Chhay.
“Our staff in the National Assembly number 1,300, and some do not do any work, but they are still paid [for] just scanning their fingerprints,” Vun said.
Earlier this month, Chhay, a lawmaker with the Cambodia National Rescue Party, asked assembly president Heng Samrin to take legal action against assembly secretary-general Leng Peng Long, because he had failed to release staffing lists to Chhay for “investigation”.
The CNRP whip had accused deputy secretary-general Mith Karen of appointing a number of his relatives to positions at the assembly.
But while Vun yesterday appeared to be responding to Chhay’s criticisms in part, he has repeatedly rejected the idea that an investigation into alleged nepotism in the assembly could take place, citing the lack of a law prohibiting the hiring of relatives.
Chhay could not be reached yesterday but CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann praised Vun’s plan to cull staff numbers at parliament, citing improved efficiency and budget savings.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MEAS SOKCHEA