The Ministry of Civil Service said more than seven billion riel ($1.7 million) in salaries for civil servants was returned to the state last year after it discovered that the books had been cooked to pay ‘ghost officials’.
This is despite claims by the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection that there were no more ‘ghost officials’ in Cambodia.
Ministry of Civil Service spokesman Youk Bunna told The Post on Sunday that the ministry found that some civil servants had either passed away or been removed from their institutions, but their names still appeared on the payrolls.
“All officials on the payrolls must be present regularly at their workplace and must have a proper bank account. So the word ‘ghost officials’, which we have heard all the time, no longer exists now,” he claimed.
The screening for ghost officials began in 2014 after the government introduced a bank-based payment system. Bunna said this year, the more than 210,000 civil servants were paid through their bank accounts.
Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection spokesman Nop Channarin said the ministry had conducted audits at 14 ministries and did not find any ghost officials.
He said some officials were on missions or suspended from their work, but were not considered ghost officials.
“We have conducted inspections over the years but not at all ministries because our officials had to inspect each case individually, which takes a long time. We’ve already issued a notice to relevant institutions regarding the issue,” he said.
The ministry, he said, would conduct additional inspections at other ministries this year.
The Ministry of Civil Service said there are 218,552 civil servants this year compared to 218,482 last year.
According to a directive on public administrative reform issued in 2010, civil servants are to work eight hours a day from Monday to Friday. They are not permitted to do personal work during official working hours, or they would be fined or punished.
In 2010, some 30,000 ghost officials were removed from payrolls, including 28,000 at the provincial level, and in police and army ranks. In 2011, 4,000 additional ghost officials were found.