Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed officials to prioritise the development of the country at the commune and district levels.

Speaking at a ceremony in Prey Veng province’s Snay Sar Pagoda, Sar Kheng said the government is committing $75,000 per commune and district to improve the livelihoods of Cambodians.

“We are paying attention to the commune and district levels to raise the citizens’ livelihoods. From 2020 to 2023, an average of $75,000 per year per commune will be released.

“In 2024, we will consider increasing the budget further,” Sar Kheng said, adding that the money will be used to build roads and the sewage systems.

Sar Kheng also instructed officials to help citizens and stay open to different viewpoints and opinions. “Officials are not supposed to cause difficulties for the people. They are supposed to solve problems.

“Don’t burden the people. Everything we do must be to improve the lives of citizens,” he said.

Sar Kheng pointed out that there are 1,646 communes and districts in Cambodia. With each receiving $75,000, the government would spend $123.45 million. The money will be released directly to communes and districts’ bank accounts.

“We are carrying out these reforms to connect to citizens. But it is still early to assess whether or not the reforms are working. Later this year, we will review them and see what is working and what is not or if we have enough human resources.

“People like to criticise. They are always asking for more. We have to accept their comments. They know better than we do. We have to be humble and consider ourselves students and servants rather than bosses,” he stressed.

The Coalition of Cambodia Farmers Community (CCFC) general-secretary Theng Savoeun said that as part of its shift to focus on communes and districts, the government should prioritise the training of commune and district-level officials.

“This will improve participation from local communities. Citizens will be more involved in initiatives at the commune and district levels too,” he said.

Savoeun said the government should strive to improve the livelihoods of citizens by building infrastructure, as well as training farmers and helping them sell their products.