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Cambodian Parliament approves 3.1 bln USD gov’t spending for 2013

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — Despite strong opposition by opposition parties, Cambodia’s National Assembly on Friday adopted the budget of 3.1 billion U.S. dollars for government spending in 2013, up from 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.

Seventy eight out of 88 lawmakers, who were present at the National Assembly’s session, passed the proposed budget law.

The budget law for 2013’s expenses is equal to 19.8 percent of the country’s GDP, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Keat Chhon said during the session.

He said the country’s GDP this year was expected to grow by 7 percent to 15.6 billion U.S. dollars. “The government spending in 2013 is to ensure the sustainable economic growth of around 7 percent and to reduce poverty rate at least 1 percent a year,”he said.

According to the minister, Cambodian per capita GDP will surpass 1,000 U.S. dollars in 2013, up from 909 U.S. dollars in 2011.

According to the adopted budget law for 2013, government spending will be focused on general administration, national defense, security, social affairs, education, health, infrastructure, agriculture and economic development.

The government will allocate some 400 million U.S. dollars toward the defense and security sectors in 2013, a 14.5 percent rise over last year’s allocation.

Social affairs spending will reach 686 million U.S. dollars, up 12.8 percent. In social affairs, the spending will be allocated to nine ministries including education, health, women’s affairs, social affairs, labor, culture, information, religion and environment.

General administration will receive 275 million U.S. dollars, up 18 percent, while the economic sector including the ministries of agriculture, rural development and water resources will get 148 million U.S. dollars, up 10 percent.

Keat Chhon said the government will continue providing a 20 percent pay raise to civil servants and armed forces in 2013.

According to the adopted budget law, the government is allowed to borrow up to 600 million SDR (about 923 million U.S. dollars), from foreign countries and development partners in 2013.

Opposition party lawmakers said they did not support the government to borrow up to 923 million U.S. dollars in 2013, and suggested that the government borrow a maximum of 200 million U.S. dollars from foreign countries.

They urged the government to increase tax collection, rather than borrow more money from foreign countries.

Meanwhile, Keat Chhon said that by the end of 2011, Cambodian government has owed foreign countries and development partners a total amount of 3.6 billion U.S. dollars.

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