Transparency International Cambodia (TI Cambodia) organised a debate on the national budget income on Friday to raise awareness on the matter.
The NGO urged the public to know more about the issue to increase the level of transparency in the national budget’s income and expenditure.
Over the last few years, the government’s revenue which is allocated as the national budget had increased.
Last year, the General Department of Taxation (GDT) collected more than $2 billion in taxes, which was a 13.37 per cent increase from 2017.
In the first three quarters of this year, revenue from customs and tax collection is estimated at some $4.567 billion, said a GDT report released this month.
A hundred youths in 24 groups who hailed from various universities in Phnom Penh participated in the National Revenue debate to discuss the policy on taxation and national budget income.
TI Cambodia director of programmes, Pech Pisey, said over the last few years, the national budget income had increased significantly, especially through tax collection.
The government must show the public transparency and accountability in managing the national budget.
“The public should learn about the national budget and participate in discussions related to the matter. Their involvement will help the government to be more transparent, accountable and efficient in managing the national budget,” said Pisey.
However, public knowledge of the issues remains limited, said Im Norin, TI Cambodia research and advocacy, and public fundraising programme coordinator.
Norin said the main factors for the low level of awareness are lack of concern about the issues and limited access to information on the use of funds from the national budget.
“We want youths to be beginners in galvanising the movement of citizens to show an interest, learn about the use of funds from the national budget, and participate in discussions.
“As we know, national budget expenditures affect our livelihoods and the country’s development. So, without paying attention to it, we will not know if it is being used effectively to meet our needs,” said Norin.
A third-year student at the Pannasastra University of Cambodia, Thav Song Hour told The Post on Friday that people have to understand the national budget, especially when it comes to tax collection and budget expenses. She represented the winning group at the debate.
Song Hour felt that if the public became aware and knew more about the issues, it would help the Kingdom. The people would then be empowered to monitor national budget expenses and raise the level of transparency.
“I learned a lot from the debate about how tax is used, paid and collected as a form of national income and the way it is spent. We should know all of these.
“If we are displeased with the government or a certain performance is not up to par, we should study it in depth to provide constructive criticisms,” said Song Hour.
Prak Vandeth, an officer at the General Department of Budget under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said it is positive to have a debate on the national budget. He hoped the debate will raise awareness among youths.
“If people learn more about the use of the national budget, they can request how revenue is generated and what the expenditures being used for.
“And, they can also review a new national policy to discuss if it is suitable according to current situations and voice their opinion,” said Vandeth.