Minister of Interior Sar Kheng announced on Tuesday that the budgets for sub-national administrations next year will be paid via the bank to prevent corruption and ensure transparency. He also warned officials not to abuse power for personal gain.
Sar Kheng was speaking at the launch of the implementation of the “Sub-decree on Functions and Structures of Town and District Administration” and the “Sub-decree on Delegation of Management Functions and Provision of Health Service to Municipal and Provincial Administrations”.
Almost 1,000 participants, including members of the Senate and National Assembly, representatives of ministries, government institutions, sub-national administrations and development partners, as well as members of the private sector and civil society organisations, attended the launch at the Ministry of Interior.
Sar Kheng said that according to estimates for next year, the state would allocate around $800 million for sub-national administrations.
This would not include the budget the state allocated to each municipal, provincial, town and district administrations, which would still be transferred to them.
He said with the additional budget from the Ministry of Economy and Finance to be transferred directly to sub-national administrations, funding for local government for next year could rise to $1 billion.
“While we are pleased to allocate the budget, we are also concerned that it could be spent carelessly, leading to problems. The budget will be paid into a bank account, and if the money runs out without any significant achievements, there will be no more.
“We have to speak clearly of this in advance. When the budget is received, it must not be spent carelessly. There must be careful thought as to what it should be spent on, and transparency for those at the local level must be ensured,” Sar Kheng said.
The interior minister said decentralisation aimed to transfer the power, functions and resources of government to sub-national administrations, with them responsible for public services and development.
This was to bring local government closer to the people to respond to their needs in a timely, effective, transparent, accountable, inclusive and equitable manner while increasing resources and the participation of communities in local development.
Meanwhile, he also told sub-national officials that they must not conspire to transfer positions. He stressed that power must not be abused for personal gain, and warned that the ministry would take legal action against anyone found doing so.
“Authorities must not behave like this or people will say power has been abused,” Sar Kheng said.
Pich Pisey, the programme director of Transparency International Cambodia, welcomed the measures by the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD).
“When a budget, salaries or other expenses are received via a banking system, it can better ensure transparency than when it is paid in cash, so this is a good step. However, when the money is withdrawn from the bank, what mechanisms are to be used to monitor it after that?” Pisey asked.
He said measures should be brought in to tackle any abuse of power.
“Abuse of power generally takes place when national and sub-national officials acted in their interests. It is a form of corruption and the ministry should have measures to prevent it.
“These are steps that we welcome, but ideas and appeals are not enough. There must be the creation of mechanisms to monitor officials to stop them from abusing their power,” Pisey said.