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Opponents Blast ‘Small’ Budget Allocations

Shortfalls in the budgeted funding for agriculture, health and education will hurt many of Cambodia’s poor, critics of the 2009 budget say.

Although 80 percent of the population lives in rural, agricultural areas, only 1.7 percent of the $1.9 billion budget has been set aside for the Ministry of Agriculture. Only 10.9 percent of the budget will go to the Ministry of Health, and only 16.1 percent will go to the Ministry of Education.

By comparison, defense and security will get 19.5 percent, including a salary increase of the military and police.

Opposition lawmakers and aid organizations said the government should bolster its funding in sectors that will help the poor. Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said his party will not support the proposed budget.