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"Ghost" servants to be exorcised by official roll-call

"Ghost" servants to be exorcised by official roll-call

CIVIL servants are to be subjected to a daily muster count to weed out "ghost"

staff whose salaries are being pocketed by others.

State employees

throughout Cambodia will be restricted to their buildings for two hours every

morning for a head-count, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon told the National

Assembly on Dec 29.

The measure, to being on Feb 7 and stay in force

indefinitely, was aimed at cracking down on government staff claiming more than

one salary under different names - and even different ministeries.

Keat

Chhon said the government would lay criminal charges against people who

contributed to the problem by producing and selling false identification

papers.

"I warn that those who process fraudulent documents and ID cards

hastily withdraw them selves before they can be arrested."

Chhon said he

believes the measures could reduce the estimated more than 10,000 "ghosts"

within the civil service.

Meanwhile, the government is also planing to

cut the number of employees in line with an agreement with the International

Monetary Fund.

About 20 per cent of the country's 143,855 claimed civil

servants would be axed by 1997, Keat Chhon said. The armed forces would also be

reduced from 130,000 to 90,000.

The Health and Education ministeries

would be exempt from the staff cutting, as they needed to expand their services

to rural areas.

Keat Chhon said raising government salaries-which range

from about $12 to $30 a month-might be possible in the future.

"Unless the number of civil servants is reduced, their salary cannot be

increased. But raises will still depend on [government] income which relies on

work efficiency as well."

The shedding of a quarter of Cambodia's civil

servants is designed to make the bureaucracy less unwieldy.

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