Ahead of the annual meeting between the two, the government has announced the creation of 13 groups to work in partnership with the private sector.

According to a 13-page document The Post received on Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday signed off on the creation of the working groups, known as “sectoral working groups for being the discussion partner with the private sector”.

Almost all 13 working groups are led by the heads of the ministries responsible for each sector, and each has more than 20 government officials as members.

For example, the “working group for manufacturing, small- and medium-sized enterprises and services” is led by the Minister of Industry and Handicrafts Cham Prasidh.

Another – the “working group for legislation, tax and governance” – is led by Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth.

All 13 have Sok Chenda Sophea, minister attached to the prime minister and secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, as its deputy.

The document did not detail the tasks each group should fulfil.

The Post attempted to obtain further details from government spokesperson Phay Siphan, but he said he had not heard about the working groups.

Ou Virak, the executive director of the Future Forum think tank, on Thursday said working groups and committees should only be created if there was no specific government institution mandated with the responsibility.

He said often the main problem in government was overlapping responsibilities and the lack of a clear line of responsibility.

“Far too many people are responsible for the same thing and far too many portfolios are given to too many people.

“An audit of ministries’ mandates would go a long way in streamlining the process and bringing about more efficient and effective governance,” he said.

Arnaud Darc, the CEO of Thalias Hospitality Group, said on Thursday that the creation of such groups did not come as a surprise.

He said there was a need to strengthen the mechanisms in place by setting up twice-yearly meetings with the prime minister, in the manner of the meeting set for Friday.

“That will help to move some agendas faster,” he said.

On Thursday, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said the private sector would meet Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday at the Peace Palace in the 18th forum between the government and the private sector.

GMAC said three important topics would be raised by the representatives of the private sector during Friday’s meeting.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said huge reforms would be announced on Friday in response to the threat of the EU withdrawing Cambodia’s access to its ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme.