Prime Minister Hun Sen has recommended that all state institutions increase their responsibility for the management of public finances. He suggested that the ministers and directors of each institution promote this heightened responsibility, in line with the government’s goals.

The recommendation was made during the March 20 launch of the 2023-2027 fourth and final phase of the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PFMRP).

He said the reforms represented an essential turning point in policy and strategic priorities, which focus on strengthening the efficiency, quality and responsibility of the government as a whole.

The premier stressed that in line with these policies – which include the delegation of authority to manage their own financial resources – each institution must use its funding as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“They will be responsible for achieving the objectives of their institution, in accordance with the principle of ‘linking the budget to policy’. They must also make sure their finances are used effectively, transparently and with full accountability. This is in accordance with the ‘value of money’ principle, as defined by the PFMRP,” he said.

Transparency International (TI) Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said that as state institutions represent the people, they have an obligation to ensure transparency, integrity and accountability when it comes to the national budget.

Pisey added that the effective use of public funds means they must be spent in accordance with priorities of each institution, and regular auditing should be undertaken.

“The government has an obligation to increase public trust in the use of state funds, so all spending must adhere to the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability,” he said.

San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said each government unit should release a public plan for expenditure, and justify each dollar spent.

“In addition to calling for improved financial management, the government should consider more flexible funding provisions. If a ministry spends less or more than its budget, then the following year’s financial provisions should be adjusted, based on the situation on the ground,” he said.

The government’s reform programme has run through three previous phases. Phase one, in effect from 2004 to 2008, promoted “Budget Credibility”. The second phase, from 2009 to 2015, focused on “Financial Accountability”, with the third, from 2016 to 2022, aimed to develop “Budget-Policy Linkages”. The current 2023 to 2027 phase aims for “Performance Accountability”.