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CSOs want more inputs in budget law

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A plenary meeting on six bills including the draft budget law at the National Assembly on November 2. National Assembly

CSOs want more inputs in budget law

Eleven national and international civil society organisations (CSOs) have sent a letter of thanks to the National Assembly (NA) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance for accepting their opinions on a draft law on financial management.

The four-page letter sent on November 20 urged the government to make the draft law public and create a public discussion so the NA, ministries, citizens and CSOs could work with the government to strengthen transparency.

The groups also acknowledged the NA, the government and the finance ministry for providing the opportunity and welcoming opinions on the policy framework t make the draft law as comprehensive and participatory as possible.

“The government should create a forum or a regular mechanism for the public to contribute to the process of checking the implementation and approval of the budget,” the letter read.

“[CSOs] request the government consider ensuring revenue collection. Revenues and expenditures must be balanced to avoid further borrowing from abroad. All ministries should reduce unnecessary expenditures. Spending on defence, security, and public order should be reduced to place more attention to the economic and social sectors.”

The CSOs went on to say the government must focus more on non-communicable diseases, consider a budget increase for vocational education and training, and focus on the budget for sub-national expenditures.

At the macroeconomic level, the group requested the government collect revenue based on the principles of social justice, equity and social inequality. They advised the government to pay attention to spending on priority loans and foreign debt, the impact of Covid-19 and the suspension of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme.

The letter ended by stating: “As mentioned above, the National Assembly, the government and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, please consider these points. Our team sare already prepared to meet for discussions and the exchange of opinions to help Cambodia grow towards achieving sustainable development goals.”

San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the letter presented the ideas of CSOs, which the National Assembly and the public could consider.

NA secretary-general Leng Peng Long said he had not seen the letter, referring questions to Cheam Yeap, the chairman of the NA’s Commission on Economics, Finance, Banking and Auditing.

Yeap could not be reached for comment on November 23.

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