The National Assembly (NA) on November 25 approved the Law on Financial Management for 2021 and six other draft laws, but civil society groups say the laws were approved prematurely and lack meaning.
In a Facebook post, NA President Heng Samrin said the draft financial law, which consists of six chapters and 15 articles, was drafted in the context of Covid-19 and its impact on Cambodia and the world.
He said the bill would provide the budget needed to protect people’s lives, maintain social stability, boost the economy, and improve the living standards of Cambodians. It also ensures the resources to restore and stimulate economic growth after the Covid-19 pandemic in “new normal” pattern to ensure safety, social stability and the sustainability of economic growth, he said.
“The National Assembly supports this important draft law and other draft laws that are important for economy and trade, both domestic and foreign,” he wrote.
The Post could not reach NA spokesman Leng Peng Long for comment on November 25.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said on November 25 that the approval of this year’s draft financial law and the six other draft laws seemed too rash and without proper discussion from all stakeholders. Such rapid enactment of the law, he said, would be considered insufficient and does not reflect the reality of the entire society.
“This draft law should have had more consultation, especially more input to improve the content. Specifically, the distribution of budgets between the national and sub-national levels [needed more input], because we want the national budget to better reach the sub-national level.
“The sub-national level is where there is a lot of demand, such as the need to restore infrastructure and prevent problems with Covid-19 or natural disasters,” he said.
Hun Many – the chairman of the NA’s Commission on Education, Youth and Sport; Religious Affairs; Culture; and Tourism – said the government representatives had drafted the law with a focus on protecting people’s lives and social and economic stability after the Covid-19 crisis.
He added that the government had carried out its work responsibly and successfully from one mandate to another by achieving benefits for the people and progress in society. He added that the structure of implementation must be adapted in line with the realities of the national budget. The national budget revenue is itself limited by the same concerns, he said in a Facebook post on November 25.
The six additional draft laws that the NA had approved included the draft law on the payment of the general state budget for management in 2019 and the draft Law on Securities.
The NA also approved the draft law on Organising and Functioning of the Non-Banking Financial Services Authority and the draft Law on the Approval of the ASEAN Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Pilot Licensing.
The other two bills approved on November 25 were the draft law on the Approval of the Right to Cooperate on Domestic Flights Within the Territory of any ASEAN member country, and the draft law on the Approval of the Protocol for the Implementation of the 9th and 10th Contract Packages of Air Transport Services Under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services.