PHNOM PENH —
An increasing number of NGOs in Cambodia are facing the prospect of budget cuts, with money from foreign donors decreasing as a political deadlock continues.
Cambodia’s robust civil society relies on donor countries, but some have postponed funding while the country’s two rival political parties remain at an impasse over election reform, following polls last year the opposition says was marred by fraud.
More than 160 key leaders from the development sector and the government met in Phnom Penh Wednesday for an annual meeting, where the shortfalls were discussed.
“Our development partners are reluctant to give packages of money to some NGOs, as they are waiting to see political developments in Cambodia,” said Soeung Saroeun, executive director at the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia.
This has led to increased fears of prolonged budget woes, he said, speaking during the committee’s annual general meeting. It has also meant more challenges to some NGOs, who have to seek more funding elsewhere.
Last year, Cambodian NGOs needed up to $700 million in funding to run their projects, according to CCC statistics.
Lao Mong Hay, an independent political analyst, said he doubted foreign donors would cut or reduce money in the long run. “I don’t think they are going to do that, because NGOs have been working to help people and strengthen democracy in Cambodia,” he said.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said foreign aid and the current political deadlock are different issues. “If donors think they want to reduce funds to pressure the government, this is what they think,” he said. “They are not related to each other.”
However, Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which has boycotted the government since the July 2013 elections, said if a government is not legitimate, there are effects, such as aid and loans and funding for NGOs.