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

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea