PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA —
The finance ministry will recoup funds that go unspent according to plan from the 2017 budget, officials have said.
Vongsey Visoth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, told a public forum this week that government departments often did not touch their budgets at the start of a new year, going on to “waste all the money” at the end in a rush to appear to need all of the budget they were allocated.
“But this is 2017. If they don’t use the money following the timeline we will take back the budget,” Visoth said.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the move could help ensure less money was wasted from the budget this year.
But, he added, ministries should be made to publish annual financial statements to ensure transparency.
“The government should post it on their website. We want to see how much each state institution has spent each year, what did they spend, how much of the budget was left, and if their expense has been verified by any independent auditor and so on.”
Chan Sophal, president of the Center for Policy Studies, said not enough money was being spent at a sub-national level.
“It’s been years without an increased budget for the sub-national level. There should be more budget directly given to them as they in need more budget to develop their community.”
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, the deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s finance commission, said the CNRP will monitor the government’s budget usage to ensure transparency.
“We still need to track their performance if the tax collection is accurate, or how much money they get from Angkor Wat’s visit tickets,” he said. “At least we need to ensure that the government’s income and budget expenses are as accurate as in the draft law.”