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Secret salaries sleuth

Secret salaries sleuth

At least 30,000 “ghost” civil servants – workers being paid a salary despite having left their jobs – have been eliminated from the state’s payroll since a census of government staff began in April, officials said yesterday.

In May, officials said 2,000 ghost civil servants, costing the government an estimated US$2 million per year, had been identified during audits of 21 of the 26 government ministries.

Cheam Yeap, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee, said yesterday that the bulk of some additional 28,000 ghost workers identified since May had been found during probes of offices at the provincial level, as well as in the police and military.

He did not provide an estimated cost of the ghost salaries, but said it was causing a significant drain on government finances.

“We noted that so far, the ghost salary payments are still a main concern and also a big burden for the government,” he said.

“To reduce [ghost salaries], we have committed to working hard on this and eliminating it completely in the future.”

Ngo Hongly, the secretary general of the Council for Administrative Reform at the Council of Ministers, said he did not have exact figures at hand and could not provide further details on the civil servant census. He noted, however, that the figure provided by Cheam Yeap may have been conservative.

“There are more than 30,000 ghost names found,” he said.

The current census is the third and largest such effort undertaken by the Cambodian government. A 1995 census uncovered roughly 18,000 ghost civil servants, while a census conducted in 2000 and 2001 revealed about 9,000 ghost civil servants.

According to a statement on the civil servant census released in April by the Council of Ministers, there were 176,829 civil servants on the government payroll as of February.

The average salary of these workers was $81 per month.

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