Defence Minister Tea Banh declined to reveal the cost of the new High Command headquarters during a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday. He said mentioning its cost could draw criticism of the engineering and relevant departments that will construct it.
Speaking to about 500 soldiers, the minister said some people would be surprised at the costs and criticise his ministry for spending too much on the building.
‘I will not say how much it costs. Wait until it is finished and we will provide a detailed report. When it is inaugurated, there will be a clear revelation of the costs."
“If I say it now, it will come as a surprise and some people will be surprised because I have experienced that because sometimes [they] are not aware of the quality of the building and will make quick assumptions as to why it costs so much. This word is not good and it will break the hearts of those who have worked hard."
“It will affect their souls, therefore I will not mention it today. I will elaborate on the inauguration day,” he said.
He said once the building is completed, it will have working rooms for senior defence ministry officials, a general secretariat, general departments and institutions under the ministry, and a meeting hall to welcome national and international guests. The building is set to be completed in 2021.
The ministry’s Engineering Department said the former single-story, 1.340-square-meter headquarters was built in 1963 with underground parking and a meeting hall to accommodate up to 300 people.
The new, seven-storey, 3,097 square-metre building consists of underground parking and a meeting hall that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. The construction would take 36 months to complete.
However, Cheam Channy, a former CNRP lawmaker, said the ministry did not want to reveal the cost because it is concerned over public criticisms.
“If he says which country is helping to build the headquarters and how much it costs, there will be criticisms. To avoid that, he says we construct this building and that some countries are helping to construct it,” he said