The country's highest audit authority said a failure by government ministries to
provide financial information was delaying audits by years, as evidenced by the
National Assembly's approval of the 2002 national budget report in February
"It is difficult to collect the reports and many government
ministries and institutions send reports late," said Chan Tani, secretary
general of the National Audit Authority (NAA), the body responsible for auditing
the government's finances.
The NAA has not yet submitted reports on the
2003 and 2004 national budgets, said Tani.
The 2002 balance sheet on
state expenditure was submitted to the National Assembly on October 4 last year.
It was due to be discussed by the National Assembly on February 3, but was
dropped from the agenda to make room for a vote on removing the parliamentary
immunity of three Sam Rainsy Party members.
On February 4, the Assembly
lacked a quorum, but approved the 2002 report on February 8.
founding in 2000 with help from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the NAA has
faced criticism for sloppy and incomplete audits of state finances.
ADB has announced it will stop providing technical assistance on 30 September
this year. Tani says he has informally asked the World Bank for assistance but
negotiations were at an early stage, he said. The World Bank was unavailable for
The NAA is responsible for verifying the Ministry of Economy and
Finance's national budget report, conducting audits of a handful of ministries
and government institutions that it chooses each year and making an inventory of
the assets of each ministry every five years.
But even if the NAA was to
submit more timely reports, there would be little notice taken of them, said
Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly's finance commission, which takes
the NAA's national budget report and passes it on to the National Assembly.
"Even if the commission examines a report and finds a lack of
transparency or irregularities [the National Assembly] will not punish the
individual responsible," said Yeap.
Despite their apparent lack of power
and the difficulties faced in obtaining information from the government, Tani
insists the NAA should keep trying to assess the accountability of state
"We are hearing people all over the country complain about the
loss of state property," said Tani. "I dare not make accusations of the loss of
state property but we at least have to oversee and report to the National
Assembly, so we can see what is existing."
Tani said the NAA is forbidden
from releasing any report that may be considered harmful to national security or
damage the reputations of those in powerful positions. To date, the big-spending
ministries such as the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of National Defense
have never been examined by the NAA.
In 2005, the NAA plans to audit the
Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, Ministry of Public
Works and Transport, Phnom Penh Municipal Government, Siem Reap Provincial
Government, the Water Supply Authority of Phnom Penh, and the Sihanoukville
Last year's reports - covering the Ministry of Economics and
Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation, Ministry of Health, Battambang and Sihanoukville provincial
governments, commune councilors, Civil Aviation Authority and Electricite du
Cambodge - have not yet been submitted to the National Assembly.
January, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF) requested that all
ministries and government institutions submit lists of state assets every five
years to the MoEF that would then be submitted to the NAA for evaluation.
There was no deadline set for these lists of ministerial assets, and it
remains unclear when the five-yearly report will be compiled.
in 2002 a similar exercise was undertaken but the MoEF received only 35 lists
from the 1,053 government ministries and other institutions using state money,