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Gov’t, Opposition Agree to Debate $5bn Budget for 2017 Despite Parliamentary Boycott


FILE CNRP holds a press conference explaining why they decided to boycott the meeting at the assembly for a security reason at CNRP headquarter in Phnom Penh, on October 07, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)

FILE CNRP holds a press conference explaining why they decided to boycott the meeting at the assembly for a security reason at CNRP headquarter in Phnom Penh, on October 07, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)

National defense and security spending will increase by more than a fifth, to $822 million, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance will also receive a large hike of 13 percent, to $322 million.

The Cambodian parliament on Friday agreed to hold a debate on a draft budget of more than $5 billion for 2017 that was drawn up in October.

Leng Peng Long, National assembly spokesman, said the budget proposals would go to the floor of the assembly on Tuesday.

National defense and security spending will increase by more than a fifth, to $822 million, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance will also receive a large hike of 13 percent, to $322 million.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the presence of opposition lawmakers, who have for months boycotted proceedings amid a tense political standoff, at the plenary session on Tuesday was crucial for transparency.

“It’s good if the opposition party takes part in the debate. To make the debate meaningful, the ruling party should open their hearts and listen to opinions,” he said.

“There should be adjustments or explanations if it’s necessary to reflect that the draft budget for 2017 would be used in prioritized sectors or meet the need of what the Cambodian people want,” he added.

The government declined to comment on whether the new money would come from further increasing the country’s debt.

Yem Ponharith, CNRP spokesman, said: “The national budget law for each country is very important because it involves the people, so the Cambodia National Rescue Party understands that this is an important law and the minority group would take part, discussing and providing ideas.”

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