The government should increase the annual budget of communes by $100,000 to increase the quality of life for ordinary Cambodians, an analyst has told VOA Khmer.
Ok Serei Sopheak, a governance specialist, told the Hello VOA radio program that he hoped incoming commune chiefs would take the issue seriously after local elections are held in June.
Communes are currently allocated between $30,000 and $50,000 annually, totaling roughly 2.8 percent of the national budget, which Sopheak said made it difficult for local governments to implement changes.
“I think that after this election if the budget increases to about 5 percent, which is almost $100,000, it will serve the public better,” he said.
“The budget for commune development will yield positive results that will clearly affect people’s lives.”
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has pledged to make modest increases to commune budgets, while the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has said it wants to drastically increase their budgets, to half a million dollars, about 20 percent of the national budget.
Serei Sopheak, however, said the CNRP’s pledge was “irresponsible” and would likely not be possible.
Twelve political parties are set to contest the 1,646 communes in the June 4 election, with most campaigning on a local security platform amid concerns over apparently rising violent crime.
“Despite the current policy of village-commune safety, people are still concerned, day and night,” Serei Sopheak said. “Therefore, I think that it requires extra efforts from the authorities to ensure that people are safe and well-protected.”
“Even though the government has the authority to make any policy decision, if the people object, they will surely relent. Any government in the democratic world cannot last long if the people are not satisfied.”