The government has agreed in principle to the recruitment of nearly 46,000 contract officials to serve in various ministries and institutions, while not allowing the recruitment of new civil servants into the state employment framework to replace any retirees, with a few notable exceptions.

According to a letter seen by The Post and dated March 25, Minister of Civil Service Prum Sokha has informed deputy ministers, senior ministers and ministers themselves that all new civil servant and government hires including teachers should be on one-year contracts in 2022 instead of adding them to the state employment framework.

The letter said that Prime Minister Hun Sen could not allow the recruitment of new civil servants into the framework to replace retirees with only a few exceptions for certain ministries and institutions.

The letter states that up to 45,931 one-year contract officials can be recruited across 32 ministries and institutions including the Royal Palace; Council of Ministers; Secretariat of State for Civil Aviation; Council for the Development of Cambodia; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Ministry of Economy and Finance; Ministry of Information; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Planning; Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports; Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts; Ministry of Environment and many other government institutions.

“The Royal Government has agreed in principle to the recruitment of 16,932 contract officials; 250 contract hydropower dam guards; 1,462 contract teachers of Buddhist studies; 352 contract school administrators for Buddhist Studies; and 9,896 other contract teachers,” Prum Sokha said.

Sokha said that the recruitment of contract officials will be announced publicly at least one week before civil service examinations consisting of a written test and oral interview begin and the candidates must be of Cambodian nationality and at least 18 years old.

The candidates will sign contracts to work for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 12 months from the signing date. Renewal of their contracts after that will be at the government’s discretion as will any possible moves to bring recruits into the state employment framework.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on March 29 that the government had in the past always allowed the recruitment of new civil servants into the state employment framework to replace retirees each year.

“This socio-economic situation – having suffered through the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and then more recently we have been affected economically by the Russia-Ukraine war – has led to a fiscal crisis in which everyone has suffered.

“This lack of revenues is why the government cannot allow further recruitment of new civil servants into the framework to replace the retirees,” he said, adding that the use of contract officials will give the government more flexibility in uncertain times ahead as well as save money in the national budget.

“If the government decides it is too costly to continue to pay them or the project they are working on is completed they can be let go and their employment will end automatically anyways at the end of their annual contracts. Whereas if they are civil servants in the framework they have to be retained until they retire,” Peou said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post that recruiting contract officials to meet worker shortages at public institutions and to replace retired officials is a good idea because it can save money in the national budget and can also better meet the government’s specific labour needs as they arise.

“However, I would like to call for fair and just recruitment for every official position in the framework and for every contract position. The officials in charge of hiring must avoid engaging in political discrimination or any kind of corruption in order to ensure that all officials serving in public institutions are highly qualified and have sufficient know-how to serve our nation,” he said.