Prime Minister Hun Manet has instructed all government ministries and other state institutions to define their roles more clearly and examine ways to improve efficiency, without any unnecessary increase in staffing levels or promotions.

He even suggested that surplus units be merged or even dissolved if their duties are not in line with the policies and framework of the seventh mandate government.

Civil society officials applauded his instructions and called for all individual officials and institutions to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, to avoid overlapping tasks and areas of responsibility.

In a notice which was circulated today, the prime minister reiterated the need for all state institutions to focus on good governance and the modernisation of their operations. In this way, they will become modern, efficient and transparent, in line with phase one of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy.

In the three-page circular, he told the ministries to concentrate on strengthening their existing structures, according to the “strengthen and tidy our homes” approach.

“All ministries and institutions must review and organise their existing structures, using all available means to improve the performance of functions within its competence. They must have an appropriate structure which supports the implementation of functions and should organise their workflow and set clear accountability and responsibilities,” he said in the circular.

Manet added that under these reforms, the same number of units should be maintained as much as possible. He also suggested that new procedures not be added, as these could increase the burdens of each institution.

If existing units or structures do not correspond to the current situation and the policy framework of the seventh mandate, the prime minister proposed that reviews be conducted to determine whether the units should be merged, or simply dissolved. 

In addition, he disagreed with the promotion of any existing unit, noting that this would result in a top-heavy structure.

Should any new unit need to be established, he stated that “it must be based on clear reasons for efficiency and meet the requirements of the policy framework of the government”.

Lam Socheat, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), believed that Manet’s instructions were wise. He suggested that there be detailed evaluations of the functions of each institution or official before deciding what to change or keep during the reform process.

“In order to avoid any overlaps in the roles and responsibilities of government institutions, and for officials to be responsible for the implementation of the reforms, there should be detailed studies of each role, so they can be adjusted to meet their actual demands. This could save the unnecessary expenditure of the Kingdom’s resources,” he said.

According to Socheat, no two ministries should have overlapping functions, but some departments under one ministry appear to have the same functions, roles or responsibilities as the departments of another.

He raised questions about the functions of the Ministry of Inspection and the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in relation to the process of internal audits or monitoring.

He also saw similarities between the roles of the Ministry of Inspection and those of the inspection departments of each ministry.

In addition, he perceived ambiguous roles in the management of natural resources, such as forest and land management.

He suggested that a clear division of functions would improve the effectiveness of law enforcement.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun agreed, noting that reforms are necessary, in order to respond to the strategies and policies of the government.

He added that the government should examine any ministries which have overlapping or similar functions to ensure that they are interconnected rather than overlapping, as this hinders the effective implementation of government policies.