Citizen Engagement in Budget Formulation and Monitoring on Public Revenue and Expenditure Process in the Post Covid-19

The Budget Working Group, coordinated by the NGO Forum on Cambodia, organized a public forum on “Citizen Engagement in Budget Formulation and Monitoring on Public Revenue and Expenditure Process in the Post Covid-19 at both the national and sub-national levels. The forum was attended by representatives from more than 10 relevant government ministries, including the Senate, the National Assembly, the Ministry of National Assembly Senate Relations and Inspection, the Ministry of Interior (MoI), and the National Committee for Democratic Development (NCDD) ,Ministry of Planning (MoP) Ministry of Information, Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) ,General Department of Taxation, (GDT), National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Agricultural And Rural Development Bank (ARDB), Local Government, Private Sector Local Authorities (Banking Association of Cambodia and Cambodian Microfinance Association) UN Agencies National representatives of development partners include representatives of the European Union (EU), national and international civil society organizations, representatives of universities, students, youth, indigenous communities, citizens and the media, which were in person around 150 people ( 60 women) and virtually through zoom program approximately 60 participants and through 5 social media- Facebook pages with a total of about 2,000 (two thousand) of people viewed.

The event has three main objectives:
1. Increase the understanding and promote the public participation on budget transparency and accountabilities including the budgetary process both national and sub-national.
2. Provide opportunities for tax payers including youths, CSOs/NGOs to meet and discuss with relevant stakeholders and policy makers toward the public participation in the budget cycle at national and sub-national level.
2. Provide opportunities for tax payers including youths, CSOs/NGOs to provide inputs for relevant stakeholders and policy makers toward the improvement national budget transparency and accountability, gender mainstreaming, inclusive principal and other alternatives to improve the effectiveness.

As a result, all participants expressed their joy by seeing the presence of all development actors participating in updates and discussions with understanding and partnerships related to the topic. We strongly believe that Cambodians will have a voice in the way of public spending as well as in decisions that affect their livelihoods in the communes, districts, and cities in their lives.

The forum focused on the three-topic discussion as following:
1. Public Participation on Public Financial Management Reform (PFMR)
2. Public Participation in budget preparation and budget expenditure monitoring at sub-national
3. Budget preparation in responding to Natural Resource Management, local community and Climate Change

In each topic, we have discussed on the main important points:
1. Existing mechanism and implementation
2. Number of challenges which is hindered of implementation
3. Request and recommendation on the priority actions to be implemented by relevant stakeholders

As a result, we would like to express our appreciation for the positive points of the existing mechanisms and past practices related to the participation of citizens in the budgeting and monitoring process, which are approximately: 35 positive points and Progress. Some of the challenges that hinder the quality of monitoring and evaluation of the significant budget implementation raised in the forum discussions included 23 points and 23 recommendations.

Finally, all of us who participate in this forum express our commitment to continue working together in a professional partnership and in a conducive environment to promote transparency and accountability in budgeting. And monitoring, especially at the sub-national level.