Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday chided ministry officials over the disbursement of traffic police bonuses and announced a probe into the issue in a speech to mark the National Police’s 71st anniversary.
The bonuses, which are paid out every three months by provincial departments, were not being handed out in a timely or complete manner, Kheng told officials at the ministry.
“Now it is May 16, and they are more than a month overdue and yet written reports say they had given [the bonuses] out but the money did not reach [officers],” the minister said.
Alleging that provincial police chiefs were signing documents stating the bonuses had been paid when in fact they had not, Kheng announced an investigation into the matter.
“We need to do it seriously . . . Now I order an audit to go check the provinces because it is very easy that the provincial police chiefs report that they already [paid the bonuses],” he said.
Kheng went on to say that traffic police officers must have personal bank accounts with which to receive their payments, and impropriety found among officials would be met with punishment.
“[Provincial officials] that do not do it properly, they will not get their bonuses or be promoted in rank, and they will also be fined and demoted.”
San Chey, of government accountability NGO ANSA-EAP, in a phone interview yesterday said such an audit should be carried out without prior announcement.
“It is giving a sign to the traffic police chiefs to prepare for it,” he said. Moreover, Chey said, it was too late for Kheng to say he would punish provincial officials for the late payments and that ANSA had previously warned that provincial police chiefs were unlikely to make the payments on time.
Transparency International director Preap Kol said in an email that the “problem is not new . . . and should have been prevented if the Government have learned the past lessons”.
“There are many ways to tackle this problem,” he said offering up a recommendation in line with Kheng’s instruction to have payments disbursed into civil servant’s bank accounts.
“One of the best ways would be to use the local banking system in parallel to the payroll which the Government has already activated. This allows proper and systematic account records for verification and audit as needed.”