Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed heads of the government’s local visit working groups throughout the country to ensure that relevant officials are invited to attend all meetings at the municipal, district and commune levels.

Sar Kheng said these officials have an important role and direct responsibility in providing services and resolving issues with residents.

In a letter, the minister said relevant officials need to attend programmes that the working groups have arranged to ensure that their work at all levels would achieve better results.

The invitation of officials aims to support the sub-national administration in addressing the challenges, requests and suggestions of local people in a transparent, accountable and effective manner.

“Also invite community leaders who are directly responsible in providing public services and addressing the challenges and requests of local people,” he said.

Sar Kheng said meetings and gatherings must follow the government and health ministry’s measures to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Battambang deputy provincial governor Soeum Bunrith said that before Covid-19, local visit working groups regularly reached out to local communities to better understand their issues and help with solutions.

“Because of Covid-19, government’s working groups haven’t been out on visits. But they always conduct online meetings via Telegram,” Bunrith said

Bunrith said the local visit working groups had contributed in reducing people’s difficulties such as providing assistance in times of disaster and helping people on drought issues, lack of clean water, and road construction for people in the localities.

Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community president Theng Savoeun said he had observed that the working groups’ implementation was more about following policy rather than technical issues.

He said if the working groups provided technical support to local authorities, it would increase their ability to address challenges and needs of the people.

“However, we would like to restart the meetings of local visit working groups at all levels of society to have more participation from all stakeholders. This should also include local civil society groups to ensure the implementation of decentralisation and deconcentration of systems at local level,” he said.