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Survey Finds Transparency Deficiency in Budgeting

Cambodian national assembly.
Cambodian national assembly.

Cambodia has nudged up slightly in its budget transparency, but it remains one of the lowest ranked countries in the region.

The Washington-based International Budget Partnership's annual budget survey found Cambodia's budget slightly more open than in 2008, and a more open than that of Vietnam.

On a scale between one and 100, Cambodia ranks 15 this year, up from 11 in 2008.

“Cambodia's score compared to regional countries has a very low rank, but it is higher than Vietnam,” said Chea King Song, a development manager for NGO Forum.

The average score for Southeast Asian countries was 36. Thailand scored 41, while the Philippines scored 55.

“In Cambodia and Vietnam scant information is provided,” according to the budget survey. “These are the countries that will need to quickly improve their transparency level to march with neighboring countries.”

The survey also found a weak legislative arm without enough power to amend budget proposals made by the executive branch or to hold public hearings on budget issues.

Cheam Yiep, head of the National Assembly's finance committee, called the report unfair.

“We work based on laws,” he said. “We do not keep information under the table. Cambodia works hard for transparency, public participation, effectiveness and good governance for the budget.”

Leah April, a public sector specialist for the World Bank's office in Cambodia, said Cambodia has made efforts to improve transparency in its public finances and is working to develop an information system to provide more timely information.