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World Bank: Cambodia Needs More "Bang for its Buck" in Social Spending

Phnom Penh: A recent World Bank review highlights the need for Cambodia to improve the effectiveness of its increased public spending on social services, particularly in health and education. While the country has seen positive advancements in revenue collection and financial management, translating that spending into stronger outcomes requires further steps.

The review, titled "Cambodia: From Spending More to Spending Better," acknowledges the rise in public spending on social sectors, partly driven by across-the-board salary increases. However, it emphasizes that these pay rises haven't yet delivered significant improvements.

Low Impact, High Needs:

1. Education outcomes show little progress and remain below regional standards.

2. Public health facility usage is low, with Cambodians spending more on healthcare than the regional average.

3. Public service infrastructure requires improvement.

"Cambodia needs to get better value from its public service spending to achieve long-term, inclusive growth," says Maryam Salim, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia.

Recommendations for Improvement:

1. More strategic budget management and linking salary increases to performance.

2. Improved resource allocation across government levels.

3. Stronger links between planning and budgeting, and spending and performance outcomes.

4. Enhanced accountability and performance assessment in the public sector.

5. Stronger capital budget management.

Specific Actions:

1. Address basic quality issues in public health services.

2. Promote use of health facilities and ensure equitable access for the poor.

3. Strengthen teacher recruitment, deployment, and training.

4. Make school operating funds more responsive to individual school needs.

5. Improve operational efficiency, human resource management, and staff capacity across sub-national administrations.

By implementing these recommendations, Cambodia can maximize the impact of its social spending and create a more prosperous and equitable future for its citizens.

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