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Sar Kheng upbraids police for corruption

Sar Kheng upbraids police for corruption

INTERIOR Minister Sar Kheng lashed out at his subordinates, accusing them of mismanagement and corruption in a speech last week.

Sar Kheng told about 300 police officers on Friday that funds earmarked for salaries were being siphoned by corrupt and incompetent officials.

"[Corruption] is a serious mistake and means they are stealing from the ministry and stealing official salaries by enlarging the budget. These mistakes will not be tolerated," Sar Kheng said.

Cambodia ranks near the bottom of corruption watchdog Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, at 166 out of 180 countries.

Sar Kheng, who is also a deputy prime minister, lambasted corruption in procurement of uniforms, petrol and rice. He called on all levels of the police financial department to reduce unnecessary spending on electricity, water and building upkeep.

"These were issues the ministry has to be concerned about. We have to reform financial management for 2009," Sar Kheng said.

"When we get the budget under control, the ministry will be able to increase salaries for police officers."

He also announced reforms in the ministry's rice distribution scheme that gave police officers bags of rice on top of their salaries.  

The new system would provide 2,800 riel for each kilogram of rice given under the old system. A local police official speaking on condition of anonymity said officers receive between 10 and 20 kilograms of rice on top of the current salary of between $45 and $55 per month, depending on rank.

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