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National budget for 2020 under discussion today

Gerald Flynn / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers during a cabinet meeting in July. KT/Khem Sovannara

Deliberation is now underway among the Cabinet of Ministers to determine whether or not to approve what could be a record sum national budget of $7.77 billion for 2020.

According to government sources who have read a draft of the proposed national budget, Cambodia can expect to see an increase of up to 21 percent compared to this year’s $6.430 billion.

While this increase certainly dwarfs the 11.4 percent jump from 2018’s $6.09 billion, the majority of next year’s additional funding will be allocated predominantly in emergency spending, which will include a budget of roughly $2.1 billion – a significant increase from 2019’s $1.25 billion.

It is not yet known if this increased allocation to emergency spending will contribute to the fiscal stimulus package that the World Bank predicted to be introduced if the European Union decides to strip Cambodia of its Everything-but-arms (EBA) trade status in February. Earlier this month, the World Bank claimed that the Cambodia government was preparing a stimulus package of up to 3 percent of GDP.

More modest rises are expected across all sections of the budget, with general administrations – which consists of 15 ministries and institutions, including the National Assembly, the Senate and the Council of Ministers – seeing a slight increase from 2019’s $615 million to roughly $628 million for 2020.

Fields of national defense, security, and public order are set to receive almost $1.2 billion next year, should the draft budget be approved – up from $1.1 billion this year – which will be spread across four sections, of which National Defence will take the lion’s share at around $630 million.

The nine institutions and ministries that make up the social fields and welfare chapter of the budget can also expect a mild increase from $1.81 billion this year, with 2020’s budget approaching $2 billion, with over $1.4 billion of that going to the ministries of education and health.

The economic sector – comprised of 10 ministries and institutions – will likely see a smaller increase, from $1.65 billion to around $1.8 billion, where the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is expected to see around $800 million of that in 2020.

Naturally, there is room for debate within the Council of Ministers today and as such figures may vary from the draft budget obtained by Khmer Times. Government spokesman Phay Siphan is expected to announce the final, approved budget sometime this morning.

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