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Cambodia’s budget process slightly more transparent, but issues remain: report

National Assembly members vote in favour of the Kingdom’s budget for 2018 last year in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
National Assembly members vote in favour of the Kingdom’s budget for 2018 last year in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Cambodia’s budget process slightly more transparent, but issues remain: report

Cambodia’s budget process was slightly more transparent last year than in previous years, according to a new report, though scant information is provided to the public over the course of the budget process, with few opportunities for public engagement and limited oversight in its creation.

The International Budget Partnership's 2017 Open Budget Survey, released earlier this month, looked at the budget processes of 115 countries, rating them from 0 to 100 for transparency, public participation and budget oversight.

The Kingdom’s score improved to 20 for transparency, up from 8 in the last survey in 2015, placing it ahead of Vietnam (15) and below Timor Leste (40) within the region. However it lags far below the global average of 42.

To improve, the report notes, the government should expand coverage of the auditing process to include all government expenditures.

In public participation, the country scored a 4, regionally ahead only of Myanmar’s score of 0, while for oversight it scored a 55. According to the report, the legislature “provides limited oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and weak oversight during the implementation stage” and recommends the establishment of an independent fiscal institution for oversight.

Transparency International’s country director Preap Kol noted in an email the improvement was due to government’s financial management reform, supported by European Union and Swedish (SIDA) development funding. Publishing more budget information online, and including civil society and public consultation in the budget process, would improve the country’s score, he said.

“It would be of greatest improvement if the Government could publicise detailed budget planning as well as expenditures reports of all ministr[ies] individually,” he said.