The issue of civil servant salaries, a key talking point for the Cambodia National Rescue Party during this election campaign, took centre stage yesterday as representatives from five parties laid out their promises for government employees.
Speaking at a debate organised by Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servants Association, representatives from the Cambodian Nationality Party, the Republican Democracy Party, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, the Khmer Economic Development Party and the CNRP all promised higher salaries for those on the government payroll.
CNRP candidate Son Chhay reiterated his party’s oft-repeated promise to increase civil servant salaries to roughly $250 per month. “We will increase salaries to at least one million riel for teachers and civil servants,” he said. “We assure that we can completely do it.”
The opposition has long maintained that recouping revenue lost to corruption would be more than enough to fund such an increase.
The smaller parties made similar promises, but Khmer Anti-Corruption Party representative Chab Chan Dara proposed a slightly more novel funding measure.
“We have a clear policy for our party, and we have 12 millionaires who are coming to help Cambodian people when our party wins,” he said, without identifying the benefactors.
While the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s debate, CPP lawmaker Sok Eysan defended the government’s treatment of civil servants at the filming of a debate last week.
“The CPP cares about civil servants. That is why their salary has increased continuously,” he said, while also maintaining that the government had to spend within its means.
Ros Vireak, a high school teacher in Kandal who attended yesterday’s debate, said he had been convinced by the CNRP’s promise, and noted that his salary would more than double should they win.
“I get [a little] more than 400,000 riel, or $100, per month,” Vireak said. “That is not enough for me to support my family.”