The government has unveiled its second-phase 10-year action plan to continue its implementation of the National Programme for Sub-National Democratic Development (NP-SNDD) for 2021-2030. The first phase will conclude at the end of this year.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, also chairman of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD), unveiled the plan during an opening ceremony of a national consultation workshop at the interior ministry on November 6. He said the government aims to transform Cambodia into a high-middle-income Country by 2030.

“To ensure the achievement of the government’s vision for the next 10 years, we need to continue to deepen and effectively reform the public administration structure. Therefore, the structure and management system of public administration is an important factor in contributing to the achievement of this vision,” Sar Kheng said.

Sar Kheng said the second phase of the national programme will clearly define the responsibilities between ministries and institutions at the national and sub-national levels to avoid ambiguity.

During the next 10 years, Sar Kheng said the structure and management system of public administration must be modernised. He said there needs to be clear definitions of powers, functions and responsibilities for ministries and public institutions.

The minister also outlined four key goals for the next 10 years – reviewing the functions and management structure of public administrations, organising necessary resources and related tasks, improving electronic governance and prioritising gender and social equality, climate change and disaster prevention.

Addressing the ceremony with a written statement, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted the successful implementation of decentralisation and deconcentration reform policies.

He said the first-phase NP-SNDD had achieved many fruitful results including strengthening the structure and management system of the sub-national administrations.

He said more power is being transferred from the ministries and national institutions to sub-national administrations, which must “work transparently on local development and improve the quality of public services”.

He provided guidelines for the next 10 years of reform, which included strengthening the management of the decentralisation and deconcentration process. He said local governance and human resources development need to be strengthened, while the transfer of financial resources to sub-national administrations would take priority.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, sees the current devolution as not yet decentralised, given the practical implications.

He said he supported the transfer of power from the national to the local level and wanted the government to do more to develop its sub-national officials.

“Cambodia has a lot of talented young people who are highly educated and knowledgeable, so we need them to participate in the development of the country, starting from the sub-national level,” he said.