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Hun Sen tightens purse strings amid coronavirus fears

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Fewer officials will be assigned to go abroad for meetings. KT/Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday decided to reduce government expenditure by 50 percent to save money which could be used to finance efforts for the containment of a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingdom.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of an annual meeting with the Ministry of Health yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said all unnecessary government spending by ministries and other government institutions must be curbed to aid in possible financial blows in the economic, tourism and garment and footwear sectors  in the Kingdom amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“This morning, I made the decision to order institutions to reduce their expenditures by 50 percent.”

“The Ministries of Foreign Affairs; and Commerce, and the Office of the Council of Ministers will reduce their expenditures by only 25 percent,” he said, adding fighting COVID-19 is the Kingdom’s current priority.

He clarified: “We are not cutting employees’ salaries, which amount to $400 million monthly. We will only be cutting expenditures on overseas trips. If it is not necessary, then don’t go. If you need to go, two instead of five people are enough,” he said.

He also said  ambassadors should attend meetings in place of some ministry officials as a cost saving measure.

“This way, we get to save some money. I will observe whether the ministries implement this measure effectively,” he added.

Ministry of Finance spokesman Meas Sok Sensan yesterday expressed support towards the initiative.

“Usually, when we encounter new problems, we need to introduce new measures. For us, we decided to cut off unnecessary spending. This does not mean we will no longer be travelling abroad but we will limit the number of delegates and trips to only those that are necessary,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon yesterday said his ministry has already cancelled numerous meetings overseas.

“For me, I had to attend a meeting in Japan scheduled for this coming Monday but it has now been cancelled,” he said.

“We have to save money in these circumstances. As what Samdech Hun Sen said, any meeting which is unnecessary must be cancelled to reduce government spending,” said Mr Sakhon.

He added most of the ASEAN technical meetings were also cancelled due to fears of coronavirus infection. Following these, he said the ministerial ASEAN meeting on forestry and agriculture that Cambodia is supposed to host in August could likely be cancelled as well.

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