Prime Minister Hun Sen has told the Ministry of Economy and Finance to speed up the preparation of the budget to address the pension inequality of low-paid civil servants and veterans.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new Chaom Chao interchange in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on March 31, Hun Sen said the government is going to take care of all retired civil servants and has been preparing a policy to raise the payout on pensions for them.

“Let me send this message to all retirees, both civilian and veterans, who have retired: We are working to increase your pension. We address this because those who have a salary of, say, one million riel [$250] get 800,000 riel when they retire, whereas those who have a salary of 500,000 riel get only 300,000 riel when they retire.

“[Finance minister] Aun Pornmoniroth, please lead the work to solve this issue. We’re prepared to increase the budget. I think that it won’t be necessary to adjust the national budget to do this because the amount isn’t that much because we’ll choose who receives it.

“For example, a retiree with a base salary of only 500,000 riel should have it increased by 30 per cent. Those with a base salary of 600,000 riel should be increased by 28 per cent. Those with a base salary of 700,000 riel should be increased by 25 per cent. We’ve come up with a formula to do this and those with pensions of one million riel are doing fine.

“I would like to send my regards to all the veterans as well as all those who have retired. I let [Kun Kim] bring some money and meet with the veterans and explain things to them,” he said, referring to the secretary-general of the Cambodia Veteran Association.

Sem Sovutha, a military veteran who has been retired since 1993 and now heads the Angkor Association for the Disabled (AAD), said he was grateful to the premier’s efforts.

“I am elated for my fellow veterans that [the prime minister] made this announcement and sped up this process. I am very happy because it has been very difficult due to the small budget for daily living expenses we’ve had,” he said.

He added that when he first retired in 1993 he received a pension of 100,000 riel and then from 2012 he received 300,000 riel, and then in 2020 his pension was increased to 640,000 riel.

“What is interesting is that my generation has been earning less money since 1990 or 1980. We do not know what the salary threshold is. The pensions are not equal to the veterans from 2000 onwards. In the year 2000, some of them with the rank of the captain had a salary of more than one million riel but our pensions are only 640,000 riel,” he said.