CAMBODIA spent nearly US$10 million on an emergency budget to get Preah Vihear temple listed this year as a Unesco World Heritage site, a government official told the Post on Monday.
Phay Siphan, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said the money paid for administrative and restoration expenses and not infrastructure development at the 11th-century temple.
"This is a normal expense for the Cambodian government," he said. "We used the money for technical work and travelling expenses for our delegates involved in the evaluation of the temple," he said by telephone.
The World Heritage Committee officially added Preah Vihear, which sits on an escarpment along the Thai-Cambodian border, to its list of World Heritage sites on July 7.
Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the special $10 million budget addition on July 23, officials said.
Hang Soth, director general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said additional expenses were not limited to the listing of the temple but also covered preservation work at the temple complex, a large portion of which is in ruins.
"I think it was a big expense, but it was necessary to help prevent damage at the temple," he said.
Yim Sovann, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, said he approved the additional funding. But he added that the government has a responsibility not to be wasteful in its spending. "I think it was good if the money was spent properly on the temple," he told the Post on Monday.