The National Assembly has approved the national budget for 2018. At over $6 billion the new budget is 15 percent higher than this year’s.
The additional funds will be used to improve the quality of public services – particularly education, healthcare and infrastructure – and aim to support a GDP growth of seven percent.
Only 65 lawmakers from the ruling CPP voted for the budget. The CNRP lawmakers were absent because the Cambodian Supreme Court dissolved their party.
Aun Porn Moniroth, Minister of Economy and Finance, said that the government will not increase taxes or create new taxes in 2018. In addition, it will no longer tax animal slaughter. This will lower the cost of meat making it more affordable. He added that, as of January 2018, earnings of less than $300 a month will be tax-free.
Mr. Moniroth pointed out that the government’s revenue is expected to increase, allowing it raise the budget for the Education Ministry to reform STEM education.
According to an outline of the budget, the government will boost expenditure in three prioritized areas.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will get 25 percent more money, for a total of $852 million. The Ministry of Health will receive $487 million, that’s an additional 16 percent. The budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will increase threefold.
The budget report also said Cambodia’s foreign reserves are expected to continue to grow and reach more than $7.85 billion in 2018. That is an increase of $500 million.