The government has taken a significant step towards improving public service delivery and local development by issuing a sub-decree that transfers additional state budget resources to communes.

This move, set to span from 2024 to 2028, aims to address some of the basic needs of communities and has garnered praise from civil society.

Signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 10, the sub-decree covers both district and commune administrations, excluding the administrative division of Phnom Penh.

According to this decree, the state plans to allocate one per cent of the annual current revenue budget, which is approved a year in advance, to commune administration expenses.

For instance, the budget for 2024 would require one per cent of the approved national budget revenue from 2023. The Ministry of Economy and Finance will oversee the management of this task.

To ensure a fair distribution of resources, the sub-decree specifies a formula and index for allocating funds. Roughly 30 per cent will be divided equally among each commune administration, while another 30 per cent will be distributed based on the population size of each commune, using data from the Ministry of Planning.

Additionally, 30 per cent will be allocated proportionally to the number of villages within each commune, according to the planning ministry’s data. The remaining 10 per cent will be divided among villages within each commune, using data from the Ministry of Interior.

The sub-decree emphasises that each commune administration must plan and utilise these additional resources within the same annual budget framework as the local development component of the commune fund, adhering to relevant laws and regulations.

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International (TI) Cambodia, commended the allocation of an additional one per cent to communes, as it will help address basic needs.

He emphasised the importance of setting priorities for communes, involving local communities to ensure that the state’s expenditure budget aligns with the actual needs of the people.

“We must ensure transparency, accountability, and the proper utilisation of the budget without fraud and corruption. While increasing the budget package is positive, it is crucial to ensure that it is used on the right targets,” he stated.

Pisey highlighted the significance of achieving a high level of effective expenditure by establishing a communal development environment that involves the participation of local people. This can be accomplished through transparent management and monitoring of budget expenditures.