Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cambodia stresses security, education in 2009 budget

Cambodia stresses security, education in 2009 budget

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- A draft of the 2009 national budget indicates that the Cambodian government intends to increase funding for the country's defense and education sectors, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said on Wednesday.

The 2009 national budget totals 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, 19 percent of which, or 223 million dollars, will be reserved for national defense and internal security, the paper quoted official source as saying.

Most of the money will go toward salary increase for military and police officers and marks a 64 percent increase on such spending compared to the 2008 budget law, it said.

The increased defense budget will be used to reform Cambodia's defense sector and implement a conscription law, parliamentarian Cheam Yeap told the paper.

"We can't reduce the budget. Even during a time of peace, we must prepare for war," he added.

The improvement of military budget was widely reported during the last couple of months, right after an armed clash in October at the border area with Thai troops killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded two others.

Due to the Thai side's massive military presence, the confrontation immediately stirred up arguments about the Cambodian troops' true power and equipment situation.

Meanwhile, the 2009 budget also allocates 34 percent of the total, or 399 million U.S. dollars, to the ministries of health and education, a 22 percent rise over last year.

The National Assembly is set to discuss the draft budget law with non-governmental organizations on Thursday in preparation for its final approval at unspecified date.

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