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National Assembly approves new development budget

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
National Assembly president Heng Samrin arrives for a plenary session yesterday. KT/Siv Channa

In order to address development challenges in the Kingdom, the National Assembly yesterday unanimously agreed to pass the National Strategic Development Plan of 2019-2023, which will need a total of $57.7 billion in capital.

The decision was made by 112 out of 125 members of parliament who were present at yesterday’s plenary session, which was presided over by National Assembly president Heng Samrin.

The draft law on the plan was approved by the Council of Ministers during a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 7. The National Assembly debated for 40 minutes before all 112 CPP lawmakers voted to support the draft law.

It will soon be sent to Senate for further deliberation, before it reaches the Constitutional Council and King Norodom Sihamoni for approval.

Planning Minister Chhay Than yesterday read out a statement by Mr Hun Sen, saying that the law had seven chapters, and that it has been in the works since last year, before it was approved by the Council of Ministers last month.

“Before it was approved by the Council of Ministers of the Royal Government, the Planning Ministry discussed multiple times, in both technical and inter-ministerial meetings, in order to review indications,” Mr Than said, quoting Mr Hun Sen. “Inputs from ministries and the national budget were also evaluated.”

Regarding the budget, Mr Than said the private sector would contribute $43.4 billion, or 75 percent of the budget, while $14.3 billion will come from the government.

He noted that the plan would reduce poverty, promote inclusive growth, ensure competitiveness, manage migration and urbanisation, fight climate change and illegal logging, and ensure good governance and the improvement of human resources.

“We will try to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of 2016-2030,” Mr Than said, adding that the plan would facilitate in transitioning Cambodia from a lower-middle income country to an upper-middle income country in 2030.

CPP lawmaker Mok Mareth said he was satisfied with the contents of the draft law.

“I noted that this draft law on the National Strategic Development Plan of 2019-2023 is detailed and correct,” Mr Mareth said.

He noted that the previous years’ National Strategic Development Plan was implemented successfully.

“Even if someone accuses us of falling under heavy foreign debt – to which our Economic and Finance Ministry has also responded – we can manage it, and it was recognised internationally,” Mr Mareth said.

Hou Sry, another CPP lawmaker, said the plan is part of the government’s Rectangular Strategy Phase IV, which aims to develop the Kingdom.

“NSDP is a comprehensive strategy that covers all sectors,” Mr Sry said. “I admire the government for its effort to set a careful strategy in response to main challenges […] this strategy is acceptable.”

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said the private sector should contribute to the NSDP, but he noted that he was concerned about the effectiveness of its implementation.

Mr Chey said the government should take action against money laundering, among other things.

“We want to see the government pay attention in the next five year development plan that good governance should be included,” he said. “Currently, we are concerned that good governance is only on paper, but people do not receive benefits from this. We are concerned about the huge migration of our people.”

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