T HE National Assembly has approved a revised 1995 national budget which is than
20 percent higher than the original.
The new budget totals 1,283 billion
riels ($513.2 million), an increase of $106.2 million or 21 percent.
budgetary windfall came from increased taxes, duties, a 114 million SDR loan
($160 million), and a planned $20 million from an auction in four months of
Military spending climbed from last year's 220
billion riels ($85 million) to 308.5 billion riels ($123.4 million).
Finance Minister Keat Chhon said while defence expenditures rose,
overall they were down from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent of the Gross Domestic
However, he said comparatively more money would go to
other public sector spending, such as education, development, agriculture and
health - which barely survived the threat of budget cuts last year.
item budgets approved for selected ministries include:
- Public Works - up from last year's $44.2 million to $53.5 million (133.7
- Finance and Economy - up from last year's $45.2 million to $54.4 million
(136 billion riels);
- Interior - up from last year's $48 million to $61.6 million (154.2 billion
- Education - up from last year's $44.9 million to $49.7 million (124.4
- Agriculture - up from last year's $23.9 million to $28.8 million (72.1
- Health - up from last year's $19 million to $24.8 million (62.1 billion
- Mines, Industry and Energy - $26.9 million (67.2 billion riels);
- Rural Development - $20.9 million (52.3 billion riels).
Chhon said it was planned that by the end of this year another $20 million
could be pumped into the government coffers from auctions of logs confiscated
from illegal operations and smuggling.
The Ministry of Finance was also
entrusted by lawmakers as the only body representing the government allowed to
seek outside loans of up to 150 million SDR (or $210 million), only having to
inform Parliament twice a year.
Larger drawdowns have to be approved at
Council of Ministers level. So far 114 million SDR (US $160 million) has been
approved, said Chhon.
Min Chhin, a CPP MP from Prey Veng, questioned the
move to authorize the Ministry of Finance to approve foreign loans.
said he feared that the Assembly was relinquishing too much power to the
executive body and curtailing its own power to question the latter about
"The international community does not tell us what to do,
this country has full integrity. But in our position of being assisted, we have
to work hard for transparency and accountability not only before the Assembly,
but also donors and tax-payers," said Keat Chhon.