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Government Policy Implementation Teams Seen as Unnecessary

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. Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy met for the second time on Monday in a bid to resolve a political stalemate, a day after violent clashes on the streets of Phnom Penh. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Government officials say they have created special teams to implement policies at the local level nationwide, but opposition officials and civic groups say they doubt the teams will lead to the “deep reforms” promised.

The teams, announced earlier this week, are comprised of senior members of government ministries and security authorities and are tasked with checking on local authorities to ensure they are implementing national governmental policies.

For example, Deputy Prime Minsiter Keat Chhun will oversee operations for Phnom Penh; and Interior Minister Sar Kheng will lead teams in the provinces of Prey Veng and Battambang.

Critics say the new teams, announced Wednesday, will create an even more tangled bureaucracy, one that favors the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the teams were formed so that national-level government can check on local authorities.

“Because provincial authorities cannot assume efficient evaluations of government policy, or whether it’s well applied, or whether some point can’t satisfy constituents,” he said.

Yem Ponharith, a spokesman for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the new teams are likely to complicate government oversight. “It’s better to strengthen the management of provincial councils and governors over whether they commit corruption or not, or make cliques within their administration,” he said.

Ny Chakrya, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the teams did not seem to be for the sake of public administration. “I don’t think it will be fruitful for citizens,” he said.