Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmakers open talks on budget

Lawmakers open talks on budget

Lawmakers open talks on budget

First debate session focuses on higher defence spending

DEBATE over sharp increases in defence spending dominated the first day of talks on the 2009 national budget draft Monday at the National Assembly, with opposition lawmakers criticising the influx of money for the military as being poorly allocated.

Amid concerns for national defence sparked by the ongoing territorial dispute with Thailand, the government has proposed increasing military spending by 64 percent to more than US$218 million next year.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua criticised the defence plan, saying the funds would be better used in agriculture, rural development and women's affairs.

"The SRP agrees with the increase in the national budget for defence ... but what will this increase be used for?" she asked during a question period.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, however, said it was crucial to raise the salaries of the Kingdom's security forces, adding that the government would be criticised for whatever decision it took.

"We are always asked to increase the salaries for the military and police, so now we are increasing them," he said. "When we don't raise them, they criticise us. Now, when we raise the salaries, they still make criticisms."

National Assembly President Heng Samrin told reporters after the session that the new budget was aimed at improving living conditions for Cambodian soldiers.

"Ammunition is not our concern. We waged war for years until we got peace and independence, so our current increase is due to the poor living conditions of our armed forces," he said.

Eighty-five out of the 105 lawmakers present voted to pass the first of the budget law's five chapters.

If approved in its entirety, the budget will total about $1.8 billion - an increase of 28 percent on 2008, according to Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Commission of Economy, Finance, Banking and Auditing. Debate continues today.

Related Story

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.