Vongsey Vissoth, permanent secretary of state and Minister attached to the Prime Minister, stressed the importance of learning from French budgetary practices to bolster Cambodia’s public financial management reform.

This sentiment was expressed a the four-day workshop on French management success kicked off on June 5, co-organised by the French Development Agency (AFD), the development arm of the French government, and Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Its objective was to exchange insights and experiences of budgetary management from France, after whose public administration system Cambodia’s is modelled.

According to Vissoth, leveraging such knowledge could potentially enhance the efficient use of public financial resources in Cambodia. He emphasised the need for transparency, accountability, budget sustainability and public responsibility, particularly with regard to taxpayers.

“We certainly can’t replicate France exactly, but we can apply these experiences as ideas, models, concepts, principles and best practices for sustained economic growth,” he said.

He outlined the potential for using similar regulatory management to create synergies within the economy and foster overall development.

Cambodia’s financial reform journey began in 2004, informed by best practices from both regional and international peers, including France.

“Over the 19-year span of the Public Financial Management Reform Program (PFMRP), we have worked extensively on all stages of the budgetary cycle,” Vissoth said, noting the transition from input-based to performance accountability and from centralised to decentralised management.

He also explained how even in France financial reform is an ongoing process and highlighted the Franco-Cambodian cooperation’s significant role in pushing Cambodia to restructure the management of the PFMRP, a key governing element and priority for the government.

Chairman of the board of directors at AFD, Philippe Le Houerou, lauded the Ministry of Economy and Finance for its leadership in driving the PFMRP.

“The high level of commitment was clearly demonstrated through the recent drafting and adoption of a law on public finance system,” Le Houerou said, noting France’s pleasure in supporting Cambodia in executing this vital reform.

In March 2020, the government initiated Phase 4 (2023-2027) of the Public Financial Management Reform Programme, with an emphasis on enhancing performance accountability. This reform has evolved through three significant phases since 2004, each aimed at strengthening financial credibility and aligning budget with policy.