NGOs Launch Forum on Engagement in Public Financial Management

A group of NGOs have united to launch a national forum that looks at stakeholder in engagement in the public financial management process to enhance reform
A person walks near the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A person walks near the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Kiripost/Siv Channa

A group of NGOs launched the National Public Forum on ‘Stakeholders Engagement in Public Financial Management Process’ on May 25.

The Budget Working Group is a consortium of about 20 national and international civil society organizations working together to enhance citizen participation in national and sub-national public financial management reform over the years since 2016.

Every year, the budget working group analyzes the budget allocation related to key priority areas, such as education, child protection, gender, health, environment, natural resources, dialogue, public forum, and public budget information in the overall budgeting process.

In collaboration with the government and development partners, the National Budget Working Group, which has the NGO Forum on Cambodia as its Secretariat, is promoting greater transparency in the budget preparation and implementation process.

It also aims to improve coherence between the national budget and the priority projects in the National Strategic Development Plan and review the Public Financial System Law and the Audit Law.

Pech Pisey, Vice President of CSOs’s BWG and Executive Director of Transparency International Cambodia, said that the purpose of the National Public Forum is to raise awareness and increase public participation in budget transparency and accountability, including the process of budget planning and implementation of national and sub-national budget plans.

He added that this forum provides opportunities for taxpayers, including youth, civil society, NGOs, to meet with relevant ministries and policymakers to improve transparency and accountability of the national budget, gender mainstreaming, environmental policies and other options to improve the effectiveness of national and sub-national budget plans.

Meas Soksen San, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Economy and Finance,​ said at the National Public Forum that according to Cambodia's National Budget 2023, the Cambodia economy is forecast to grow 6.6 percent in 2023, reaching 131,276 billion riel, or $32.29 billion.

As it attempts to make a full recovery from the impact of Covid-19, the government has prepared the 2023 Budget Law, in which it plans to spend 39,206.21 billion riel ($9.64 billion), a 13 percent increase year-on-year (YOY). The government has also committed to raise the domestic revenue collection to 29,311.75 billion riel ($7.21 billion), a 15 percent YOY jump.

With this budget size, however, it would leave a deficit of 25 percent. To make up the gap, the government plans to increase its financing from borrowing, grants from development partners, government deposits and the issuance of state securities.