PHNOM PENH - The National Assembly began discussing the 2013 budget on Thursday, agreeing on the overall content of the draft law before beginning to refine it.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon led a delegation to the Assembly to defend the more than $3 billion budget, which is an increase of more than 12 percent from the year before.
Opposition officials say the law does not put enough money into education, social welfare and other sectors. And Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said that the numbers won’t reflect actual spending, thanks to corruption within the government. “If Cambodia has still more corruption, people will become poorer and poorer,” he said.
Keat Chhon said, however, that the government has worked to reduce corruption and that Cambodia’s economic growth rate is nearly 7 percent, which means the country and its finances are moving in the right direction.
Ninety-six of 101 members approved commencement of the debate on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to now go forward and refine the budget article by article.
The budget calls for $280 million for the Ministry of Education, $245 million for the Ministry of Defense, $225 million for the Ministry of Health, $115 million for the Ministry of Interior and $103 million for the Ministry of Social Affairs.