Prime Minister-designate Hun Sen has granted the Interior Ministry’s request to conduct a feasibility study on establishing two new provinces, according to Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.
In a letter dated August 27, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the first new province would be carved out from Kandal. The second one would be separated from Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces, between Koh Nhek and Lumphat districts.
Kheng said the separation serves to ensure more effective public administration, better security and local development, and efficient public service delivery for the people.
Siphan echoed Kheng’s statement, saying the establishment would contribute to better governance and economic development at the provincial level.
“Creating a new province would help contribute not only to good governance but also the economy. It’s good for the economy. As we know, within each province we have a package for economic development,” he said.
“It’s not that too many [cooks spoil the broth]. It depends on efficient management that answers to public demand.”
Siphan rejected criticism that the establishment would be a waste of national budget.
“The government provides services to the public. What the government can do, it depends on stable incomes from the economy and each package for each province,” he said.
He said micro-management would be more transparent and efficient, providing convenience and a shorter timeframe in terms of public service delivery.
Ok Serei Sopheak, a public administration analyst, said creating new provinces is normal. He said it is a development that also takes place in other countries in response to the increasing population.
“It is the duties and responsibility of the government in Cambodia and beyond. When the population increases, there is a need to update and create [new] geographical administrations at provincial and district levels,” he said.
The separation is also based on economic benefits, as migration from one province to another would cause population density to fluctuate.
“When population density changes, public services must adapt accordingly. If we don’t change the administrative boundary of districts and provinces, the geographical management would be difficult,” he said.
He said forming new provinces does have its downside, citing the costs of establishing each province.
The Interior Ministry’s general administration director Prak Sam Oeun said the creation of the two provinces would be completed by early next year.
The timeframe, he said would help the government to determine the municipal, provincial, town and district council seats, in time for the third-mandate commune council elections in May next year.
Sam Oeun said the ministry had yet to establish a task force to study the possibility of creating the new provinces. The names of the new provinces, he said, would be decided when the study is completed.
Cambodia currently has 25 provinces and the capital. The government separated Banteay Meanchey province from Battambang; Kep from Kampot province; and Tboung Khmum from Kampong Cham province in early 2014.