The Council of Ministers has approved a draft budget for 2023 of 39,206,205 million riels, or $9.6 billion, a 13 percent increase on 2022.
The new budget is equivalent to 29.87 percent of GDP, according to the budget law brief released by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Friday.
The Ministry said the new budget for 2023 is the final mandate for the current government and was done in the context that the country is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The economy will continue to grow in 2022 against the 5.4 percent growth rate in 2021, despite the Ukraine war and other external factors.
The economy is forecast to grow 6.6 percent in 2023, and the service sector by 6.6 percent from 4.3 percent in 2022 following reopening of hotels and restaurants, with expectations of foreign arrivals into the country.
Agriculture is forecast to grow 1.1 percent in 2023 in comparison to 0.7 percent in 2022. Inflation is expected to increase to about 2.5 percent. A higher rate is predicted for 2023 because of prolonged rising goods and oil prices.
The riels against the dollar will be stable - at 4,065 riels against $1 in 2023, partly thanks to promoting the use of local currency.
With the new budget, the Ministry also said the budget will also be used to recruit more civil servants to replace those who retire and 3,000 new teachers, which had not happened in the last two years.
Some of the budget will also be used to increase civil servants’ salaries. A pay freeze has been in place for two years due to the pandemic, with the money instead being used to provide cash to those affected by Covid-19, the Ministry said.
The increase in budget for 2023 also comes as the country prepares to hold the general election and host the SEA Games and Para Games 2023 for the first time.