Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Military winner in draft budget

Military winner in draft budget

Military police stand guard during a training exercise in Phnom Penh.
Military police stand guard during a training exercise in Phnom Penh last month. Yesterday, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that 72 per cent of the defence budget will be spent on salaries for the Kingdom’s armed forces. Sreng Meng Srun

Military winner in draft budget

Government officials were still tight-lipped about the 2014 draft budget yesterday, though some details did continue to trickle out, such as the announcement of a sizeable increase in national defence spending.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and banking and finance committee member Cheam Yeap said yesterday that the Standing Committee of the National Assembly would put the draft budget up for debate in a full session of the assembly – “likely next week”.

While the complete contents of the budget would not be made public until the full session convened, he added, the budget does contain a 17 per cent boost in the $400 million spent last year on defence.

“We have to establish a proper uniform for the armed forces such as shoes and headgear, which is necessary to have appropriate armed forces to ensure the stability of peace and territorial sovereignty,” Yeap said, maintaining the money was not for buying weapons.

Of the proposed $468 million in military spending, he added, 72 per cent would be to pay servicemen’s salaries. However, the presence of so-called “ghost soldiers” has long been a target of opposition criticism, and Cambodia’s relatively large standing army has even been the subject of donor-funded “demobilisation” schemes that have largely proved unsuccessful.

Though Yeap refused to offer further specifics, unconfirmed local media reports cited some notable figures, such as a 20 per cent increase in education funding over last year, and a more than 10 per cent increase in agricultural spending.

Despite the lack of complete figures, the potential for issues with the national debt has raised concerns in some corners.

The International Monetary Fund said in January that Cambodia’s risk of “debt distress” – that is default, or imminent default – would remain low as long as there were continuing reforms.

However, this year’s $3.5 billion budget represents a nearly 35 per cent increase over 2012’s, and Cambodian Institute for Development Study director Kang Chandararot maintained yesterday that reforms are only part of the picture.

“Reforms are tool[s] to increase revenues, not indicator[s] for debt level,” he said in an email. “You can make many efforts (reforms), but sometimes [with] no success (increase in revenues). Revenues serve the source of repayment, not just reforms.”

“We will have difficulty in servicing debt and [gaining the] trust of the private sector on [government] economic management,” he added. “The economy will suffer when repayment [is] due.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong