Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng pushes decentralisation

Sar Kheng pushes decentralisation

Sar Kheng chairs the 12th National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development Meeting yesterday at the Ministry of Interior. Photo supplied
Sar Kheng chairs the 12th National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development Meeting yesterday at the Ministry of Interior. Photo supplied

Sar Kheng pushes decentralisation

Keeping an eye on an upcoming 2019 internal deadline, Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday lamented the slow progress made by ministries to decentralise authority to local governments.

Decentralisation has been singled out for years by the government as a key reform measure, but Kheng said that while ministries had been given the authority to delegate responsibilities down the chain of command, the response had been far from satisfactory.

“Certain ministries have committed to transferring specific functions, but there are some ministries who continue to hesitate to take the decision to transfer work to the sub-national administration,” he said.

To push the process along, he said the Interior Ministry’s National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) would identify priority sectors and related line ministries, and suggest actions that would help the government to take decisions.

Kheng went on to call out the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as an example of administrative mismanagement leading to flawed decentralisation, explaining that at the provincial level, forestry and fisheries departments were not under the supervision of the agricultural department, preventing the bodies from working in unison.

The risk was all the greater, he continued, because “there can be some opportunists who will take this opportunity to destroy the forests, fisheries and other resources”.

“This is a sensitive issue, as it could affect the effectiveness of the ministry’s work,” he said.

Ngann Chamroeun, deputy head of the secretariat of the NCDD, said that in order for the Agriculture Ministry to properly decentralise its authority, its local departments must first take control over local forestry and fisheries administrations.

“So we need to amend the existing laws to not allow the administration of fisheries and forestry to be so independent, and that is why we want to merge them under the agriculture department,” he added.

San Chhay, coordinator of the Affiliated Network For Social Accountability, said that there would be hesitancy to relinquish power to local governments, given that officials would have to give up their administrative might.

He added that ministries would also have to loosen the purse strings in order to fund the added responsibilities taken on by the sub-national administration.

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay said he welcomed efforts at decentralisation, but added that there must be real action on the ground and repercussions for ministries that dragged their feet.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh International Airport wins award as passenger traffic soars

    The Phnom Penh International Airport has been awarded Best Asia Pacific Regional Airport 2019 for its sustained high growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The award was presented by the Capa Centre for Aviation (Capa) – a world-leading and trusted organisation that provides market intelligence to

  • PM responds to Rainsy ticket claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday expressed frustration over claims by Sam Rainsy that he had altered Rainsy’s ticket with Thai Airways to prevent him boarding his November 7 flight to Thailand, from where he had claimed he would enter Cambodia. Hun Sen made the

  • Gov’t: Rainsy’s ‘coup plot’ a failure

    The government on Wednesday commended the Kingdom’s security forces for thwarting the attempted “coup plot” by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy through his announced return to Cambodia on November 9. The comments came as Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue

  • Chinese tourists lead international visitors

    Chinese tourists again topped the list of foreign visitors to Cambodia during the first nine months of this year, with the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday reporting a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year. The Kingdom received 4.81 million international tourists in that

  • Princess Buppha Devi passes away aged 77

    Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, who was famous for her skills and key roles behind the Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, passed away on Monday from unspecified illness at a hospital in the Thai capital Bangkok, according to the official Facebook page of King Norodom Sihamoni. “May

  • PM: Request for release of plotters not due to pressure

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said his request to have the supporters of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his “coup plot” released on bail was not made under international pressure. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 34 roads in Preah Sihanouk