In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo Hun Sen made comments on a number of issues with unofficial selections and translations as followed:
Balance of Incomes and Expenses
Please allow me to open a bracket here. Those of you who are new to Cambodia may not have a sense of what the Cambodian financial situation was. As a Prime Minister the most difficult thing that ever happened was when there was a debt of cash and was the happiest vice versa. I once told HE Keat Chhon (then Minister for Economy and Finance) to borrow money from HE Thao Pengleat (then Governor of the National Bank) and then to the current governor Chea Chanto for monthly salary of the civil servants and armed forces. We owed the central bank and also prolonged payment for the civil servants too. The salary was meager but we were not able to pay. There was no cash. Cambodia then was said to have sixty days a month.
We have changed that. We have surplus of cash while our civil servants and armed forces even had their salary increased and before end of the month. This is the point I wanted to make about how the situation changed. I told IMF in 2004 that despites many difficulties we had Cambodia would firmly adhere to (1) no more borrowing from the central bank and (2) no printing out more banknotes. We followed a one commander-one general staff method. I am the Prime Minister. I am the commander in chief. I am a chief of general staff. I must respect budget rule. I cannot afford to be wasteful. Aside from the earmarked budget, any unforeseen expenses will be only for urgent matter like dealing with emergency such as drought or flooding. I wish to send words to whoever will become Prime Minister like in 100 years from now to be careful with cash strapped situation.
As we have come out of that situation now, the situation has changed, but it could relapse if we are not disciplinary with our budget rule. The amount spent must be in balance with income. If we have an income of five, it would be better to spend only four. Saving one is good. We have been able to earn ten and spend nine over the past ten years. That has brought about a situation that we are no longer cash strapped.
Dissemination of Annual Audit Report, Beware of Misinterpretation
It is good that we have here the chief auditor. HE Jean Francoise Cautain has mentioned in relation to the annual audit report. There is no need to ask permission from Prime Minister if the report is to be disseminated as there is nothing to hide here. After auditing exercise, if it required that the report needs to be publicized, just do it. I clarified once to HE Jean Francois Cautain about this report. I said there is nothing to hide about report of expenses as it will have to go through the National Assembly. Everything needs to be transparent. I wish HE Keat Chhon, on my behalf, should look into this matter and make sure the dissemination will be carried out in a timely manner. I stress it again to all chief auditors there is no need to ask me for permission about report publicity.
There is nothing to hide and all expenses must be reported to the National Assembly for budget settlement each year. There is no secret about this. I invite all development partners to wait and see. The problem is the report will be in Khmer not in English or French. As translation will be necessary, I wish there will be a good correct translation. There are translation companies in Cambodia and very often there have been cases of incorrect translation. As for dissemination of the report, HE Men Sam An, Deputy Prime Minister, always reports to me. I did not have time to go through it. What are we going to do? I think HE Men Sam An will have to do it herself as she is the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of inspection. I will just approve the report.
Determining Pay and Expenses of Independence Institutions
This is an issue of consistency regarding management of civil servants. I am suggesting the Ministry of Economy and Finance to discuss this issue with “independent institutions” such as National Assembly, the Senate, the Constitutional Council, the Council of Magistracy and the National Elections Committee. As we have the minister of justice as a member of the Council of Magistracy, it has been possible to negotiate on pay and expenses. Two decisions from the National Elections Committee have come and I have sought help of Minister of Economy and Finance to inspect them. There have been so and so amount of money needed for pay, and so and so for operations.
It has been a difficult issue when independent institutions need money from the Royal Government but declares themselves to be independent in their functions. Let us determine what needs to be done here. We need to negotiate. There must be some differences between the Constitutional Council and the National Elections Committee, while the National Assembly and the Senate could be united on this matter. There is no consistency here. While they may not have a consistent pay and expense patterns as those of the executive offices, they also do not have one among themselves – sometimes called Constitutional institutions. Staffs of those institutions are highly paid. If they recruit staff independently, it will create burden of expenses on national budget.
I kindly ask those institutions – executive and legislative, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Council, the National Elections Committee, the National Audit Authority and the Anti-Corruption Unit to discuss about staff payrolls and expenses with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to include them into the annual state budget planned for each year. HE Aun Porn Moniroth, Minister of Economy and Finance, should discuss the issue with related institutions to guarantee a consistency of pay so to prevent staff from running after high-pay institutions./.