Member of Parliament, Cambodia
Reconciling Economic Policy and Institution-Building Goals
training, recruitment, promotion, performance management, patronage, merit pay, job descriptions, financial reform, donor relations, de-politicization, decentralization, corruption, capacity building
Thu Nov 5 2009
Yim Sovann describes an initiative to reform Cambodia’s Finance Ministry and curb corruption in 1993-94. He says that when he joined the ministry as an assistant to the new minister, the treasury was bankrupt and inflation was running as high as 300%. Civil servants had not been paid for as long as four months, and there was no public finance law, no law regarding revenue collection or expenditures, no inventory of state assets and no anti-corruption law. The first task was to draft an entire complement of financial reform laws based upon past practices and outside experience. The greatest resistance came from high government officials engaged in non-transparent privatization of state assets and military groups engaged in illegal businesses and smuggling. He says that the ministry was successful in improving revenue collection and paying civil servants and soldiers. The minister’s resulting credibility enabled him to deal with soldiers to combat smuggling and corruption and to encourage ministry employees to enter positions and win promotions based upon merit. Corruption in the ministry virtually disappeared, he says. However, without top political support, such reforms could not endure. Many gains were lost after administrations changed.
At the time of this interview, Yim Sovann was serving his third term as a member of Parliament for Phnom Penh. He was an assistant to the minister of finance during 1993-94, after which he studied in Japan for a degree in economics. He was elected to Parliament in 1998 after he had returned to Cambodia.