Prime Minister Hun Manet said the state has saved over $200 million through the suspension of non-urgent research and case study projects. He has directed the funding towards more pressing target, such as the expansion of social protection and disaster relief.

“In recent days, I ordered the suspension of funding to several non-essential tasks. I have saved over $200 million this year. The money has been diverted to social protection schemes and flood relief,” he said, while presiding over an October 5 World Teacher’s Day event.

He explained that the non-essential projects were case studies and investigations into projects that are not yet necessary, and their suspension will not disrupt the work of the government nor its officials. Occasionally, it is necessary for the state to freeze a budget or redirect it to a priority area, while the projects that are on hold can easily be carried out at a later time.

“We cut several unnecessary projects so we could meet our targets in other areas. As prime minister, I have to take these kinds of measures – my role is to decide how the national budget is spent,” he said.

He added that the new government plans to use the budget to strengthen health services at the grass roots level, as well as on the education and justice sectors. The funds would also support efforts to combat drug dealing, another of the government’s priority areas.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, supported the prime minister’s move to cut unnecessary spending and redirect funds to more pressing tasks.

“Once a budget is exceeded, the government needs to implement formal measures to cut spending. It can prune unnecessary expenses from various projects. This will stabilise the macroeconomy,” he explained.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, lauded the redirection of funds to addressing the people’s urgent needs.

“In my opinion, if the state reduced the number of members on the Council of Ministers and its advisers, it could save even more. This could be used in other sectors, for example to train specialists,” he said.

He added that the budget should be transparent so people can see precisely how it is spent and hold the government accountable. He also believed that funding for unnecessary projects should be redirected to priority sectors.