Public consulted on 2023 national budget

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Chheang Vun remarks at the June 23 opening ceremony of the national public forum title “Citizen Engagement in Budget Formulation and Monitoring of Public Revenue and Expenditure Process in the Post Covid-19 era” in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

The Public Expenditure Target for 2023 aims to prioritise improving the people’s standard of living and build a more resilient society by accelerating the education sector, promoting vocational training and strengthening social protection systems – a move expected to greatly assist with the rehabilitation of the Kingdom’s economy post-pandemic.

Chheang Vun, chairman of the National Assembly’s 2nd Commission on Economic, Finance, Banking and Audit, made the remarks at the June 23 opening ceremony of the national public forum title “Citizen Engagement in Budget Formulation and Monitoring of Public Revenue and Expenditure Process in the Post Covid-19 era” in Phnom Penh.

Vun said that in 2023, investment in Cambodia is expected to rise thanks to a number of internal and external factors. He explained that the external factors would likely be an increase in demand for goods, both regionally and globally, as more countries have largely brought Covid-19 under control.

Internal drivers would be the government’s continued ability to manage the pandemic, and would especially reflect the success of the Kingdom’s vaccination programme.

“Reforms – in both administrative processes and policy – aim to improve the environment and accelerate trade and investment, as well as promoting the development of digital trade in the national economy. Based on these, Cambodia’s economic growth in 2023 is projected to reach 6.6 per cent. Inflation is expected to be held to 2.5 per cent,” he said.

Tek Vannara, executive director at the NGO Forum on Cambodia who was also present at the event, said citizen’s engagement in the budgeting process was very important as it helps the authorities to understand people’s real needs and concerns. It also contributes to transparency and accountability, which is vital for retaining public trust.

“The legal framework at the sub-national level has many laws and policies designed to promote public engagement, especially in the design and implementation of budgets. Unfortunately, enforcement of these regulations is not yet fully effective,” he said.

Vannara said that in order to establish effective investment and monitoring planning, the members of local communities must be educated in the system.

Chan Chhorvy Sok, representative of Oxfam in Cambodia who also attended the forum, said sustainable and environmental development requires the participation of all sectors, including government institutions, civil society organisations, the private sector and national and international organisations.

“The engagement of civil society and the public will make all policies responsive and place a priority on the most vulnerable members of society, those under the poverty line – especially women and girls – through effective increased income collection and equity with regards to investment and public expenditure,” she said.