Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Belt-tightening time, PM says

Belt-tightening time, PM says

Prime Minister Hun Sen at the 2nd National Forum on protecting and conserving natural resources on Tuesday in Phnom Penh, where he ordered a scale back on hiring civil servants.
Prime Minister Hun Sen at the 2nd National Forum on protecting and conserving natural resources on Tuesday in Phnom Penh, where he ordered a scale back on hiring civil servants. Facebook

Belt-tightening time, PM says

Prime Minister Hun Sen asked government agencies to cut back on recruiting new workers on Tuesday, citing the creation of a new infantry brigade in Stung Treng province as one reason why the number of new hires must be reduced “to the minimum” – even though the Defence Ministry said last week the brigade was merely a reshuffling of existing ranks.

“To avoid pressure on both our military and civil servants at the same time, I would like to ask the Minister of Economy and Finance [Aun Porn Moniroth] to pay more attention to reducing [civil] staff to the lowest points,” Hun Sen said. “If they ask for 100 people, just give only 10 or 20. We cannot spend so recklessly.”

More than half of the government’s expenditures – or 6 percent of the country’s GDP – is spent on government salaries. According to “macroeconomic principles” cited but not named by the premier, the totals should amount to no more than 4 percent of the budget.

The premier did not address accusations that Cambodia’s civil service has long been plagued by “ghost workers” – bureaucrats, soldiers and teachers who collect salaries but do not go to work.

But Minister of Public Function Pich Bunthin said “ghost workers” are a thing of the past.

“There are no more ghost officials now,” Bunthin said. “We check attendance every day, every morning.”

But opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who led an investigation into ghost workers in the National Assembly two years ago, expressed scepticism.

“I don’t know if . . . some reforms or systems have been applied by the government to clean up, but I have never heard of any programme,” he said said.

The monthly minimum wage for civil servants has risen from $84 four years ago to $208 today, according to Ministry of Economy and Finance Deputy Director Eng Touch, who added that it is projected to increase to $248 by April of next year.

The government recruited more than 7,600 civil servants, 10,900 contractors and 6,500 freelancers over the past year, largely to replace departing staff, according to Touch.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the