While the government claims that the recent sub-decree to establish a new town and new districts will improve administrative management and provide public services closer to villages, civil society groups say the changes are a waste of the national budget.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the government’s claims that the changes will streamline administration were not a legitimate reason to establish new districts.
“There was no need to establish new government entities. If you want to increase efficiency, we should focus on improving human resources and set aside some budget to allow the district level to be more responsible and take necessary actions,” he said.
He said the changes were a mechanism to offer titles and responsibilities and were a waste of the national budget.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post that the sub-decree, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on January 8, revealed the government’s commitment to sub-national administrative reforms. He said some people have difficulty gaining access to public services.
“The criticism is just an opinion and is not valuable to the country. They said it will waste the national budget . . . but the idea is to serve the people. How is it wrong if the government finds jobs for the people,” he said.
The sub-decree ordered the creation of the new Koh Rong town, with its two communes – Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem – to be taken from Sihanoukville.
Koh Rong Town Hall is to be located in Koh Rong Sanloem commune, the sub-decree said.
A new district in Stung Treng province, Borei O’Svay Sen Chey, comprises three communes – O’Svay, Koh Sneng, and Preah Romkil – taken from Thala Barivat district.
O’Svay commune’s administrative boundary has been amended by adding Na Ong village from Siem Pang district’s Sre Sambor commune and some areas from Sesan district’s Sdao commune and Stung Treng city’s Samaki commune. Borei O’Svay Sen Chey District Hall will be in O’Svay commune.
Pursat province gains the new Talo Sen Chey district. It consists of Talo commune, previously in Bakan district, and Phteah Rong commune from Phnom Kravanh district.
Talo commune itself acquires two villages – Koh Svay and Koh Wat – from Bakan district’s Khnar Totoeng commune. Phteah Rong commune will host Talo Sen Chey District Hall.
Another new district, Taing Kouk, has been established in Kampong Thom province. It consists of eight communes – Andong Por, Chra Neang, Chrolong, Pongro, Soyong, Sralao, Svay Phloeung and Triel – carved out of Baray district. Taing Kouk District Hall will be constructed in Soyong commune.
Two new districts, Boeung Keng Kang and Kamboul, have been added to Phnom Penh, the sub-decree states.
Boeung Keng Kang receives seven communes from Chamkarmon district – Boeung Keng Kang I, Boeung Keng Kang II, Boeung Keng Kang III, Olympic, Tumnop Teuk, Tuol Svay Prey I and Tuol Svay Prey II. The district hall will be in Boeung Keng Kang III, while Chamkarmon District Hall will be moved to Tonle Bassac commune.
Kamboul comprises six communes from Por Sen Chey district – Boeung Thom, Kamboul, Kantaok, Ovlaok, Phleung Chheh Roteh and Snaor – and one – Prateah Lang – from Dangkor district.
In Kandal province, there are changes to the administrative boundaries between Takhmao town and the districts of Kandal Stung and Sa’ang. Some parts of Kandal Stung district were given to Takhmao town while four communes – Koh Anlong Chin, Roka Khpos, Sitbou and Svay Ralum – were incorporated into Sa’ang district.
All changes will follow a map attached to the sub-decree.
On October 5, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Ministry of Interior to end proposals to create a new province from parts of Kandal and Mondulkiri provinces, after the plan was leaked to the public.
“Today, I would like to end the study on taking some areas from Kandal province and Mondulkiri [to form a new province]. There will be no new province.
“When Tbong Khmum province was established, it was a quiet process. The government mentioned it only after a royal decree to form a new province was issued. This time, the prime minister’s writing was leaked to the public,” he said.