Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that ministers who do not delegate responsibilities to the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development by 2020 would be removed from office, said Ngan Chamroeun, the body's secretary-general, who is also a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior.
Chamroeun told a meeting with journalists from around 40 media outlets on Friday that the prime minister’s warning was issued at the 41st Congress of the Central Committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which was headed by its president Hun Sen last week.
“Samdech [Hun Sen] determined at the party’s 41st Congress of the Central Committee that 2020 will be the year when the progress of functions being delegated to the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development will be recorded."
“[The prime minister] said that if a ministry did not delegate its functions by 2020, then the relevant minister will not be nominated again after a Council of Ministers reshuffle. Samdech stated this clearly, and it is a commitment from the leader of the government,” Chamroeun said.
He added that delegating responsibilities from national or ministerial level to local administrations involved all institutions apart from the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the National Bank of Cambodia.
Chamroeun said the most important institutions are the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Health as they serve people's basic needs.
And he insisted that delegating should not be done too quickly, but rather carefully and step by step.
Chamroeun admitted certain problems were slowing the handover of responsibilities from the national to the local level, including ministerial level concerns as to the ability of local officials and their fear of losing power and interest, but he insisted the administration level was working to solve them.
“The hesitation at some ministries in delegating [duties] involves concerns over the ability of the sub-national administrations. This was an issue mentioned . . . at the party’s 41st Congress of the Central Committee," Chamroeun said.
"However, [the prime minister] said some ministries and institutions were using concerns about the ability of the sub-national administrations as an excuse to delay delegating duties."
“If delegating was yet to be done, how could such a judgement be made so quickly, [Hun Sen] pointed out.”
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, welcomed the prime minister's pronouncement and said the warning would encourage ministries and institutions to strengthen their efforts in delegating their responsibilities.
“When Prime Minister Hun Sen issues a warning like this, ministries will likely put in more effort in delegating power to the sub-national level,” he said.
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vey Samnang said on Sunday that all ministries had begun to carefully transfer responsibilities from the national level to his province.
“We [can now] make decisions and manage these duties by ourselves. There is no problem with that,” Samnang said.
A National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development report said the government has up to this year allocated a budget of around $2.412 billion to the sub-national level to serve the people under its authority.
The commune-level budget was $716 million from 2002 to this year, while town-district revenue was $152 million from 2013 to this year, and expenditure at the municipal-provincial level was $1.544 billion from 2009 to this year the report said.
It added that 12 ministries and institutions have delegated 600 social service functions to sub-national administrations via one-window service offices.