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Administration, Opposition at Odds Over Tax Collection and Foreign Debt

Son Chhay, left, is a member of parliament of Sam Rainsy Party and Phay Siphan, right, is a spokesman of Council of Ministers of Cambodia.

WASHINGTON DC - Cambodia continues to accrue foreign debt to support its national budget, but opposition lawmakers say some of the debt is needless and that Cambodia should improve its own revenue collection. Supporters, however, say the loans are necessary to maintain the country’s economic growth.

“We ask the government to have responsibility,” Son Chhay, a parliamentarian for the Sam Rainsy Party, told “Hello VOA” Thursday. The government is spending too much money and relying on loans to pay the bills, he said. Such expenses show “a lack of responsibility the will put our citizens in danger,” he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan, who was also a guest on “Hello VOA,” dismissed such concerns, saying the government has a spending plan to develop the country, including infrastructure improvements, agricultural support and other uses for foreign aid and domestic tax revenue.

Connecting cities with cities and provinces with provinces will help promote agriculture and investment and maintain a high rate of economic growth, he said. “The government has proper programs to control the public debt, for which the government has plans from 2011 to 2018,” he said.

Administration, Opposition at Odds Over Tax Collection and Foreign Debt
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The National Assembly approved a $3 billion budget earlier this month, with spending raises in health, education and social issues. The draft must be approved by the Senate before it is signed by the king.

Son Chhay said the Senate could make adjustments and send the budget back to the National Assembly to reconsider, reducing foreign debt and improving tax revenue.