At two-day seminar, PM Hun Sen and Deputy PM Sok An argue that reforms such as increasing civil servants’ salaries will improve government
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during a conference on Wednesday at the InterContinental Hotel.
THE government has no option but to continue to implement reforms that will foster economic growth, lower corruption and improve the quality of services available in the Kingdom, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said Tuesday while kicking off a two-day seminar on reform strategies.
"If we avoid making reforms, we will definitely lose out on opportunities we now have in hand and we will continue to live under chronic poverty, conflicts and instability," he said before an audience of 650 provincial governors and other officials and civil society leaders gathered at the Inter-Continental Hotel.
Sok An, who is also secretary-general of the Council for Administrative Reform, pointed to reform initiatives already in place, including increasing the average salary of civil servants. He said these salaries have more than quadrupled since 1998, climbing from approximately $17 per month to $75 in January 2009. The government also provides a pension contribution equivalent to 16.3 percent of employees' salaries, he said.
"The government has improved the living standards of civil servants through the implementation of a consistent state reform program," he said.
This and other reforms "are not dreams but the result of our common effort", he added.
The two-day seminar concluded Wednesday with remarks from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said reform efforts would reduce poverty and increase accountability on the part of all ministries and civil servants.
"Some ministries have many staff but not a lot of capacity," Hun Sen said, adding that he has noticed this problem for more than 20 years. Reform efforts, he said, would make ministries more efficient.
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said in response to Sok An's comments that government salaries were still too small, prompting qualified civil servants to leave the public sector to work for private companies or NGOs.
Speaking of reform efforts generally, he said, "We want to see the government officials do more than talk."