The Council of Ministers yesterday approved its 2016 budget, which will increase 12.18 per cent from last year to $4.3 billion, with education set to get another significant injection of funds and the Labour Ministry also receiving a sizeable boost.
Released on social media by government spokesman Phay Siphan, the draft budget, which now must be approved by parliament, continues the government’s push to fund improvements in the Kingdom’s education sector, which was handed some $502 million, a 28 per cent increase on last year’s allocation.
Education Ministry spokesman Ros Salin said the ministry would forge ahead with reforms targeting teacher education, school inspections and curriculum development.
Allocated $42 million, the Ministry of Labour enjoyed a 45.8 per cent boost to its finances, extra money that would be invested in a vocational training institute to train people in mechanics, electronics and electricity, according to spokesman Heng Sour.
“This increase shows the commitment of the government to improve the capacity and productivity of the workforce,” Sour said.
Generally increases across other ministries were in line with, or above, the 12 per cent overall rise, though the much-maligned health sector only saw an 8 per cent increase of its budget, to $275 million.
The Ministry of Defense’s planned expenditure, some $382 million, rose 17.3 per cent, while the Ministry of Interior is in line to receive a 21.6 per cent boost to $278 million.
The justice sector was allocated $252 million.
Public administration is set to suck up $394 million. Under this, the National Election Committee took $28.3 million and the National Assembly $34 million.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, with $46 million, saw a 25 per cent increase, roughly the same rise as the Ministry of Water Resources, allocated $23 million.
The Ministry of Public Works saw a 12.3 per cent rise to about $90 million, and the Ministry of Rural Development a similar increase to a $36 million.
A major component was listed as national capital expenditure, some $1.5 billion, which will cover infrastructure upgrades, including the continuation of the Northern Railway line and the construction of a river port.
The unallocated budget was listed as about $331 million.
According to the draft, it will go towards, among other things, paying interest rates, increased bonuses for retired officials, the new voter registration system, Cambodian “telecommunication data control” and bolstering the Tax Department.
The draft document also revealed the cancellation of transportation taxes for motorbikes, tuk-tuks and tractors.
Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Son Chhay said although the budget looked evenly spread, the documents lacked any specifics about how cash would be spent.
“I have personally been asking the government to provide details of spending for many years . . . We know at least 35 per cent of our budget gets pocketed by corrupt officials.”