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Govt reform mixed: survey

Govt reform mixed: survey

A SURVEY released Monday shows that perceptions of government officials at the local level have improved, though only about half of Cambodians have occasion to interact with them, a slight decline from 2008.

Conducted by the inter-ministerial National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, the survey spanned two years and involved interviews with 750 households in Phnom Penh and four other provinces, including Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Kampot and Ratanakkiri.

Responses were compiled into a “Local Governance Index”, that tracks public views of the accountability, transparency and responsiveness of commune councillors.

Rezaul Karim, programme adviser for the NCDD, said the survey indicated an 11 percent improvement in the index since 2008, though he could not provide the baseline for that year.

“We have seen that investment in commune councils does lead to improvements,” he said. He added that current funding for commune councils nationwide is insufficient.

“Each commune receives around US$15,000 to $20,000 per year. That is not enough,” he said.

The survey indicates that 52 percent of those queried interacted with their commune councils, down from 54 percent in 2008.

Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and head of the NCDD Secretariat, said at a launch event Monday that the survey would inform implementation of the effort to decentralise government powers and responsibilities.

That effort, he said, was advanced on Friday by the Council of Ministers, which approved a 10-year programme that “describes the goal,
objectives and principles covering sub-national administrative reform”.

But Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said Monday that the decentralisation effort is “still a long way from success”, and that commune councillors are rarely empowered to act on behalf of their constituents.

“Their powers are still limited and under the control of the ruling party’s policy,” he said.

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