Authorities at the sub-national level will be allowed to sack or appoint civil servants to positions without referring to higher authorities, thanks to a new government sub-decree.
Prime Minister Hun Sen signed the sub-decree on December 27, which allows governors of capital, provincial, city and district levels to manage their own staff as they see fit.
The sub-decree delegates power to governors of the capital or provinces in “appointing and terminating the position of civil servants of departments, units and bureaus who have fulfilled duties at sub-national level”.
The sub-decree states that there are some duties which do not require the approval of high-ranking councillors, such as “recruitment of staff, internship termination, and appointment of ranks up to deputy director or deputy chief under the control of capital or provincial administration”.
The public has repeatedly criticised the government over bribery in the appointment of officials and allegations of nepotism.
Diem Chhuon, governor of Thma Poul district in Banteay Meanchey province, supported the new policy to decentralise power to sub-national levels.
“This reform promotes accountability from officials,” he said.
Mr Chhuon admitted there had been cases of corruption or bribery regarding the appointment of civil servants in the past.
“We cannot deny this has happened with the appointment of officials,” he said. “However, this sub-decree gives us the power to appoint or terminate positions in our jurisdiction.”
Mr Chhuon said in the past, a request to provincial councillors, governors and relevant ministries was required to terminate a position or appoint an official, which was time consuming.
“Now district authorities can appoint civil servants up to the rank of bureau chief or deputy chief without the approval of the provincial governor,” Mr Chhuon said.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said the policy was an improvement. “Transferring power to sub-national levels so that they can recruit local officials is good, and will not waste time with requests to ministries,” he said.
“But this sub-decree should have a mechanism that prevents corruption and nepotism, which could still happen in the process.”
Kampong Thom Governor Sok Lou said the delegation of power to sub-national levels has been in place for some time, but the new sub-decree will make the administration faster and more effective.
“It really is nothing new because we have been implementing such procedures for a long time, but thanks to the sub-decree it won’t be necessary to get approval of provincial councillors,” Mr Lou said.