Analyst: Government appointments ‘a waste of national budget’

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Acting head of state Say Chhum appoints 32 officials as advisers to National Assembly president Heng Samrin. Photo supplied

The government has appointed over 200 officials as undersecretaries of state, secretaries of state, assistants and advisers at various institutions since October 1.

While senior officials said the appointments were aimed at ensuring higher efficiency at the national level, social analysts said the practice is merely power-sharing and a waste of the national budget.

According to a royal decree dated November 10, King Norodom Sihamoni promoted nine officials to undersecretaries and secretaries of state at theMinistry of Interior.

In a separate royal decree dated the same day, the King promoted 17 officials to undersecretaries and secretaries of state at the Ministry of Information.

Another royal decree dated October 18 and signed by acting head of state Say Chhum appointed 32 officials as advisers to National Assembly president Heng Samrin – positions which are equivalent to undersecretaries of state, secretaries of state and ministers.

Fifteen other officials were made his assistants, which is equivalent to director-general level.

The appointments were made on Samrin’s request.

Chhum also named 46 officials in a royal decree dated October 5 who were made advisers attached to the Council of Ministers – positions equivalent to undersecretaries of state, secretaries of state and ministers.

Thirty-six others were appointed assistants for the Council, which is equivalent to director-general level.

These appointments were made on the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Minister of Public Functions Pich Bunthin told The Post on Monday that he had no detailed information on hand and could not give an estimate for the new officials’ salaries.

“I can’t answer that unless I sit down and do the math,” he said.

Sociopolitical analyst Ly Srey Sros said the government has appointed too many officials since it was formed on September 18.

“In the prime minister’s cabinet alone, there are already 300 officials including advisers, secretaries, assistants ... We can see that 300 is too many for a single cabinet."

“Some officials just hold [symbolic] positions and haven’t even done their job. It’s just for [social] status or power sharing,” she said.

Srey Sros expressed scepticism that the appointments would help improve efficiency, saying it would instead needlessly consume a considerable chunk of the national budget.

“[Social] development seems to be slow and cannot meet the people’s expectations. The [government’s] solution to land disputes and deforestation have not been good enough."

“The promotions could waste national budget [resources] because it is also allocated for those officials,” she said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the appointments were made to meet the demand of each state institution and the general public.

He said the practice aimed to bring about higher efficiency at each ministry and provide job opportunities for the younger generation.

“We recruit those officials based on the demand of each minister who is responsible for effectively implementing [national] policies and serving the public."

“The massive recruitment may surprise some people, but for officials working to serve them, it’s normal. We are capable of paying their salaries,” he said.

Siphan said the government created job opportunities for our youths and needed to be ready to replace the more experienced officials [who are reaching retirement age].

He dismissed claims that the appointment is a waste of the national budget, saying many ministries have carried out reforms to enhance the capacity of government officials.

“It is regretful the critics do not understand about state affairs,” he said.

Prior to October, and in a royal decree dated September 18, Chhum also appointed 55 officials as assistants to the prime minister.

And in a Sub-Decree dated September 14, Hun Sen named a batch of 82 secretaries for his cabinet.