Minister of Interior Sar Kheng will form an ad-hoc task force to conduct nationwide inspections of communes and districts to strengthen the safe village-commune policy.
This is in light of some 1,600 communes and districts receiving a budget of more than $110,000 for development this year.
Sar Kheng announced the formation of the task force after Prime Minister Hun Sen also ordered sub-national officials to strengthen the policy last week.
“I am preparing an ad hoc task force. It will not only go to one place, but all provinces to inspect some tasks. They will check the safe village-commune policy.
“They will also check the police stations to see if they are fully staffed and have regular working activities. Have officials been trained sufficiently to carry out their duties? Are they capable enough to work? The task force is the one to study this,” he said.
He said in the future, the government would release more than $110,000 per commune for development.
“The budget for development is $75,000 in 2020. After adding other funds, it will be more than $110,000. In 2021 and 2022, the communes will see a further increase in money.
“Communes have never received so much money in our history. We think that in the whole of Cambodia, there are 1,646 communes,” he said.
Ampil Krao commune chief Eang Sokhom in Prey Veng province’s Sithor Kandal district told The Post on Tuesday that strengthening security will be easier once the task force and funds assist in such work.
“In other words, there is currently a shortage of funds. When cracking down on some offences, we always meet obstacles. Other police forces are required to join the crackdowns because my own commune officers cannot do the work alone.
“If there is an ad hoc task force coming to strengthen my commune, I will be very happy because my commune seems to be lacking. We can handle only commune security forces but the commune security guards lack support,” he said.
Sokhom said he expects that the increased funding and review by the task force will help enhance security.
A survey conducted last year highlighted in a report by the ministry said 84 per cent of citizens had expressed their confidence in the police force while 81.1 per cent of those surveyed said they felt safe in their villages and communes.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the government had failed to implement the safe village-commune policy because problems of gambling, drugs and gangsters continued to persist, leading to fear.
Along with the policy’s strengthening, he said he wanted to see the introduction of changes to roles and responsibilities.
“The commune chiefs seem to have many roles but they have only administrative powers which do not help in cracking down on offences in their localities.
“Mostly, upon learning of criminal activities, they can only report it. When there is a blatant crime, the local police are the one to confront it. When the crime is reported and investigated two or three days later, it is already too late,” he said.
When the government releases the funding packages to each commune for development, Chey said it could be misused and not meet targets if the government fails to oversee its use.