The government has issued guidelines on the roles and duties of national-level officials who undertake municipal and provincial missions to promote the implementation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency Phase IV.

The guidelines make it clear that national officials on such missions do not have the right to make decisions on the sub-national level.

Monday’s directive, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, said the government has decided to appoint a national-level working group to undertake missions to cities and provinces to push the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV, the national strategic development plan, national policy, and all the reforms of the government’s sixth parliamentary mandate.

The working group’s role, the guidelines said, is to support sub-national administrators in providing services, promoting local development and solving all problems at the local level.

The directive said there is no authority to act on behalf of ministries and institutions or to manage the affairs of sub-national administrations or other competent local authorities.

However, the national working group may urge sub-national administrations, provincial ministry departments and other relevant institutions to enhance their performance in accordance with their assigned roles, duties and responsibilities.

In the face of intractable challenges, the national team should urge relevant ministries and institutions to address and monitor the situation, find solutions and report all results to the government.

The guidelines also listed additional key tasks for the national officials.

First, they should collaborate to promote and enhance the accountability of ministries, institutions and sub-national administrations in delivering public services and local development effectively.

Also, the working group should organise public forums in local areas, paying close attention to people’s living conditions, and make direct contact with households, listening to their concerns and requests, and then attempt to address those issues based on laws and legal regulations.

If issues cannot be solved, the national working team must summarise the situation and report to the government.

In addition, the team will collaborate to solve the problems and difficulties of local people and mobilise resources from partners to participate in solving the people’s living conditions and promoting local development.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Wednesday that Minister of Interior Sar Kheng is the head of the national working group and reiterated the roles and duties specified in Monday’s directive.

“First of all, we [national-level officials] are trying to coordinate effectively at sub-national levels to improve both the speed of work and the provision of services to our people. This is very important."

“In the past, when the national team has tasks for grassroots administrators, there was little action taken, or mistakes were made, and there has been confusion as to the responsibilities of national and local officials."

“Basically, we have to respect the local level or we just compromise basic work,” Siphan said.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said field visits from the national level to the local authorities are necessary, but he thinks that in order for local authorities’ work to improve, they should receive technical support from the national team through training and should not be blamed for any shortcomings.

“To improve local authorities’ abilities, the national team must have a commitment to share resources, so they can work effectively after getting training."

“There has been criticism that the national-level authorities often highlight the mistakes of the local authorities when visiting them,” Chey said.