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Few Reforms in 100 Days of Deadlocked Government, Analyst Says

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, right, after a meeting, as Sar Kheng, center, deputy prime minister, looks on at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.
The first 100 days of the new government have been marked not only by political deadlock, but inflation as well, a political analyst says.

Though there have been some positive signs from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on reform, overall, the political situation “seems not to have moved forward,” Ok Serei Sopheak, a governance analyst, told “Hello VOA” on Monday.

The National Assembly, which has been boycotted by 55 opposition lawmakers-elect, has passed laws, but only through members of the ruling party, he said. Still, there have been some reforms, particularly in banking and finance, he said.

“The Anti-Corruption Unit has arrested some officials in the taxation department,” he said, by way of example. “And the remarkable structural reform has been in public financial management, which includes the banking system and payment of government salaries, starting from early 2014.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the government has done well internationally in its first 100 days, while establishing a good basis for operating over the next five years, when the next national election will be held.

“We are strengthening state revenue collection, as well as restricting government spending, to ensure effectiveness of services,” he said. “The government has received appreciation from Japan, which has upgraded us as a strategic partner in all areas, which is the same as what we have with China.”

Government officials say they have also worked toward steady economic growth, while maintaining “social order” in the face of ongoing opposition demonstrations, which have continued for more than two weeks now.

But Ok Serei Sopheak warned that the government should not be too sanguine about what it has achieved so far.

“Government efforts over the last few months to collect tax revenues has proven effective, but at the same time, our people, especially the poor ones, have been dramatically and negatively effected by inflation as a result of this effort,” he said.

Inflation in some places has reached 20 to 30 percent, he said. “If this trend continues, inflation will cause resentment among the people and could lead to a social crisis, which will subsequently turn into a political crisis, adding to one that is already serious.”