Cambodia's legal and policy framework provides little opportunity for citizens and civil society organisations to have a say in public financial management at the national level, said a study by NGO Forum which was released on Tuesday.
The purpose of the study was to analyse public participation in the reform of public financial management. That included financial processes and specific inflow from the public in organising and approving plans at the national and sub-national levels.
Forum deputy executive director Ouk Vannara said fewer citizens at the national and sub-national levels had a voice in government planning.
“The small participation is due to the limitations posed by legal obstacles that limit public participation. The press and media are still limited, which also reduces interest, knowledge and willingness,” he said.
Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said it makes no difference if it is Cambodia or other counties. In order to thrive economically and develop rapidly, the most important point is to reform public financial management effectively.
“It’s important our country has good finances so we can use our budget effectively, spending on investment that allows our economy to move forward,” he said.
Cambodian participation in public financial management, especially at the national level, is lower than other ASEAN countries, according to Forum.
To catch up, Cambodia has to increase the participation of citizens and civil society organisations in its public financial management, the study found.
Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Sok Sensan told The Post on Tuesday the ministry will show data to the public if it is permitted by law. However, it is illegal.
“Our country already has a law and it does not state an obligation to show data to the public before sending it to the National Assembly.
“We welcome all types of questions in the assembly. If anyone wants information, one can request it from the National Assembly as it represents over 16 million people,” Sok Sensan said.
The study suggested the National Assembly and the government allow more opportunity for the public and civil society organisations to provide opinions about the draft law on finance annually.
“It should also create a programme to teach citizens and authorities at the sub-national level so they have the ability to participate in discussions with NGOs and public representatives effectively before a draft of the national budget is sent,” according to the study.