On behalf of the Secretary of the Budget Working Group, the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) in collaboration with the Siem Reap Provincial Network of Civil Society Organizations, in conjunction with the Siem Reap Provincial Hall, organized a Provincial Dialogue Workshop on “Citizen Engagement in the Budget Formulation and Monitoring on Public Budget Expenditure at the sub-national level ”on September 28, 2020, at the Angkor Holiday Hotel, Siem Reap Province, with support from Oxfam. The workshop was attended by a total of 97 participants (26 women) from the Governor of Siem Reap Province, representatives of the Ministry of Economy, representatives of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD), civil society organizations, authorities, district / Commune Council, Community, Youth, and University Students. The main objectives are the following:
• Identify challenges and follow-up plans to increase public participation in the budgeting and oversight process
• Consultation on how to increase public participation in the budgeting and budget monitoring process.
Welcoming remarks by Ms. Nhean Phongmaly, Representative CSOs Provincial Network of Siem Reap and Executive Director of Rachana Satrey Organization, said that the Siem Reap Civil Society Network plays an important role in facilitating the establishment of good cooperation discussions between civil society organizations and local authorities to promote good cooperation and inclusion. Through the smooth cooperation in the past, the network of civil society organizations in Siem Reap has been actively involved in a number of important activities, such as disseminating information, establishing consultations, providing training to communities, civil society organizations and local authorities. In addition, the network members have cooperated well to contribute to the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the guidelines of the Siem Reap Provincial Authority.
Keynote by Ouk Vannara, Deputy Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, observes that there are a number of barriers to the public, especially local people, not being able to participate in the investment planning and monitoring process, as well as implementing in the budget plan. These four major factors include 1). The knowledge of the participants, especially the people in the local community, is still limited to budgeting. There are no clear mechanisms and procedures or systematic guidelines that can facilitate the participation and monitoring of the public as well as civil society organizations. In the public, the community is not easy to access to information and data on the situation of communes (CDB2010) as well as districts, and (4) there is no mechanism for obtaining simple, non-technical budget data (budget Citizens) and official feedback from relevant ministries and institutions, as well as mechanisms for collecting input from the public to promote public participation at both the national and sub-national levels. In addition to these major factors, there are some other factors that I believe the entire workshop will contribute to the discussion through the coordination of each group representative this morning, as well as help to set priorities to ensure participation in the investment planning process and monitor the implementation of the budget plan with high efficiency. Therefore, I would like to encourage all participants in the workshop to actively participate in the group discussions that my team will work on as planned.
To participate in this morning group discussion, I would like to provide some key points in the following:
1). Increase the knowledge of the participants, especially the people in the local community
2). Coordinate systematic mechanisms and procedures or guidelines that may facilitate the participation and monitoring of the public as well as civil society organizations.
3). Make it easier for the public, especially citizens to have access to information and data on the status of communes (CDB2010) as well as districts.
And (4) ensure that there is a mechanism for obtaining official citizen budget data and information from relevant ministries and institutions, as well as a mechanism for collecting input from the public to promote participation at both the national and sub-national levels.
Opening Remarks by H.E Nak Neron, Deputy Governor of Siem Reap Province, said that “Today’s workshop is an opportunity for us to discuss frankly and identify challenges in the process. Citizens’ participation in the budget planning process and monitoring the implementation of the budget at the sub-national level, as well as identifying joint action plans to address those challenges to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of citizen participation in the process. Prepare budgets and monitor the implementation of budgets at the sub-national level, as well as encourage people to become active citizens and participate in the process of preparing investment plans for communes, Sangkat, and activities that the village, commune authorities are organized.