By Huy Vannak
25th October 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
The Cambodian government, according to sources, said that in the 2009 budget it will increase its military expenditures to double that of its 2008 military budget.
According to the same sources, the military expenditures would be increased to US$500 million.
The government’s plans to increase the military expenditures were made at the same times as when Cambodia is facing a military confrontations with Thailand along its northern borders with Thailand as well as around the Preah Vihear temple areas.
In response to the planned increase of military expenditures, an opposition MP, Mr. Son Chhay, has requested the government to review its past military expenditures.
Mr. Son Chhay said: “in the past, we’ve seen that the military expenditures involved loans from foreign countries to procure military hardware, such as the purchases of patrol vessels from China, when we already have an annual military budget of $US250 million. We have received information that there are embezzlements in the military budget for millions of dollars such as the claims that Cambodia has 140,000 military personnel, when in fact, according to our investigations, Cambodia has not more than 50,000 troops. Secondly, the embezzlements in military materiel such as uniforms, consumption goods such as rice and fuel and so on. And those soldiers who were sent to face a military conflict with the Thai soldiers a long the borders have told journalists that, in the last 4-5 years, they have not received any uniforms or military boots from the government.”
Mr. Son Chhay added that Cambodia needs to strengthen its military, but the government must ensure that the military budget is properly spent or not continues to allow corruption to thrive in the military.
In relation to the livelihood of the soldiers, a senior military official from the Ministry of Defence, Gen. Neang Phat, said at the memorial ceremony for the three dead soldiers, one day after the armed clashes on the 15th October that: “to tell you the truth, our soldiers, during a time of peace, because some of them have wives and children to feed, so during their free time they went to help their wives and children by working in the family’s rice fields. This is the truth. They don’t stay in their barracks all the times. Their monthly salary is only 200,000 Riels ($US50), or more than 150,000 Riels, so they hardly can feed their families.”
At the same time, according to the statement released after the cabinet meeting on the 17th of October, the Cambodian government has decided to increase annual national budget for 2009 to almost $US2 billion, which is an increase of 30% from the 2008 national budget.
The planned national budget has only been approved by the cabinet. It will need to be submitted for approval by the National Assembly in the middle of November.//