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Cambodia’s Parliament passes 2012 budget law…with no QUORUM

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s National Assembly on Thursday adopted the draft budget law of 10,767,982 million riels (2.62 billion U.S. dollars) for the country’s expenditure in 2012 even though opposition parties boycotted the session.

The 2012’s budget plan showed an increase of about 9 percent compared with the adopted budget plan in 2011 of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars.

Eighty-six members of parliament (MPs) who were present in the meeting unanimously passed the draft budget law.

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Commission of Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, said the budget increase was to develop the nation in all sectors, especially to rehabilitate the country after this year’s flood devastation.

“It will be essential to ensure a sustainable economic growth of around 7 percent a year,” he said.

All the 26 MPs of the main opposition party and the 3 MPs of the Human Rights Party boycotted the session, denouncing to the government’s plan to borrow up to 700 million SDR (Special Drawing Right), or 1.09 billion U.S. dollars, in 2012 from foreign countries.

Speaking during the assembly floor, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, minister of economy and finance, said the government increased the foreign borrowing to 700 million SDR only in 2012 and following years, the borrowing will be declined to 400 million SDR or 625 million U.S. dollars a year.

“We believe that Cambodia can control the debt as the current Cambodia’s debt to foreign countries is only 29.1 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) including the toxic debt,” he said. “Cambodia can borrow foreign countries up to 40 percent of the GDP.”

The country’s GDP in 2011 was estimated 11.4 billion U.S. dollars.

The 2012’s budget plan mainly focuses on the general administration of 230 million U.S. dollars, up 21 percent; the national defense and security of 345 million U.S. dollars, up 12 percent, the social affairs of 601 million U.S. dollars, up 15 percent, and the economic sector of 133 million U.S. dollars, up 11 percent.

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