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NGO calls for climate budget transparency

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In 2017, the government reported spending $225 million on climate change. Heng Chivoan

NGO calls for climate budget transparency

NGO Forum on Cambodia issued a report on Wednesday which said that from 2000 to 2017, some one million houses were seriously affected by climate change disasters. Yet, government spending on the issue remained relatively limited.

The report is said to be the first in Cambodia that aims to promote transparency in government spending to tackle climate change.

The report said: “These weather disasters can destroy homes and other assets, impacting farmers’ ability to produce food, and increase the spread of infectious diseases and other health hazards.

“They impact families and businesses, which in turn impacts government spending. That makes it a serious threat to Cambodian people and the economy.”

NGO Forum on Cambodia said the report was produced based on data from the national budget law, public expenditure review 2017 and other government sources.

The report said in 2017, the government reported spending $225 million on climate change. However, there were questions over what percentage of that money went into directly tackling the issue.

“Some government spending is entirely focused on climate change, but other spending is vague. An obvious example of the cost-benefit is the construction of a seawater dam to protect coastal communities from rising sea levels.

“However, some areas that money was channelled to did not directly evidence an impact in tackling climate change,” the report claimed.

The ministries with the largest national budget to address climate change are Water Resources and Meteorology which received 37 per cent; Public Works and Transport (19 per cent); Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (10 per cent); Rural Development (10 per cent); Environment (four per cent); Health (three per cent), and others making up the remaining 17 per cent.

The report said women and children were most at risk from climate change impacts, yet the government hasn’t provided enough information in its findings for a solution regarding them.

NGO Forum on Cambodia executive director Tek Vannara said: “This is the first report which provides an in-depth study of the challenges facing Cambodia on climate change and the input of relevant institutions in helping tackle it.

“The report will further contribute to the government’s development towards being a climate-resilient country, and help it address key issues on health, income, social security and livelihoods.”

National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Keo Vy said he was unsure of the Budget 2020 expenditure to address climate change, but the Ministry of Environment could be aware of it.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheakthra did not respond to request for comment as of press time on Thursday.

NGO Forum on Cambodia said to ensure the government makes the right decision on the use of the national budget to tackle climate change, it should give civil society organisations, citizens and other stakeholders the opportunity to contribute, monitor local spending and encourage state institutions to manage the national budget.

If Cambodia does not address climate change early enough, GDP could fall 0.4 per cent by the end of 2020, the NGO said.

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