Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Access to budget information remains low, says Transparency

Access to budget information remains low, says Transparency

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with cabinet ministers for a national budget meeting at the Peace Palace in 2013. Transparency Cambodia released a survery showing access to budget information remains low. Photo supplied

Access to budget information remains low, says Transparency

Transparency Cambodia on Thursday released a national survey report, Accountability and Transparency of Budget Processes, which shows that Cambodians’ access to information about national and sub-national budget distibution remians at a low level.

The survey, which was conducted nationwide in October last year, aimed to explore citizens’ “perceptions and attitudes” towards the government’s budgets and budget-related issues in Cambodia, with the findings highlighting serious concerns regarding the the topic.

Among nearly 1,600 participants in 200 villages around the country, only 0.3 percent could give correct answers when asked about the size of the national budget in 2017.

Additionally, 33.4 percent of respondents didn’t know where the budget comes from, while 46.4 percent didn’t know how the budget was used.

Participants’ overall level of undertstanding about budget distirbution at the commune/sangkat levels is lower than that of the national level, with 37.5 percent of the participants knowing who are mainly responsible for managing commune/sangkat budgets.

Almost none of the participants (0.1 percent) said they had seen official documents from the government on the national spending, while only 1.1 percent said they had sought out those documents.

Public accessibility

At the commune level, more than 90 percent of the participants said they had never received or sought any information about the budget from local officials.

However, almost all of them (98.5 percent) believed that information about the budgets should be more accessible to the public.

Preap Kol, executive director of TI Cambodia, said the findings are evidence that governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as development partners, need to look deeper into citizens’ perceptions of and attitudes toward public finance management.

“This knowledge, in turn, can help them in the formulation or reform of policies and programs to increase budget transparency and accountability,” Kol said.

Neither Cheam Yeab, chair of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Commission, or Rainsey Visoth, Ministry of Economy spokesperson, could be contacted for comment.

Sorn Chey, executive director of the Cambodia-based Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said he supported the report as Cambodian people still do not understand the importance of gaining access to information about national and subnational finance, giving the chance for corrupt government officials to take bribes or embezzle money.

“People do not ask much about it because they think that only . . . village or commune chiefs, are responsible for the budget,” he said. “Meanwhile, the authorities or officials do not give them that information.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said