Salary, Energy Rate Reforms Validate CNRP Agenda: Sokha

Critics who say the CNRP’s commune election platform is unrealistic should look to the ruling party’s implementation of lowered electricity costs, and salary hikes for civil servants and soldiers, issues the opposition championed during the 2013 national election, CNRP President Kem Sokha said on Wednesday.

—Commune Election 2017—

Speaking at a campaign rally in Battambang province, Mr. Sokha addressed CPP naysayers who doubted the opposition had the policy savvy or funding to fulfill its promise of granting each commune at least $500,000 annually, a proposal that would cost at least $823 million.

CNRP President Kem Sokha speaks to opposition members at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh in April. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Sokha said the ruling party had dismissed the opposition’s 2013 plan to raise the minimum salary for civil servants and soldiers to 1 million riel, or about $250 a month.

“At the time, they said ‘Don’t believe them! Where will the money come from?’” Mr. Sokha told supporters. “But now the salary is 1 million riel because they are afraid of losing votes.”

Civil servants’ salaries are slated to rise to 1 million riel next year.

The CPP lodged similar criticisms at its rivals’ proposals to cut electricity prices to 600 riel per kilowatt hour, about $0.15, only to take up the rate cuts.

“At that time, they said, ‘No electricity can be sold at that price,’” Mr. Sokha said. “Now the price is down to 600 riel” per kWh.

In February, the Electricity Authority of Cambodia announced that the lowest rates for its tiered pricing structure would be cut to 610 riel per kWh for users in Phnom Penh and Kandal province’s Takhmao City, though prices in other provinces remain far higher.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the CNRP was trying to take credit for the ruling party’s accomplishments.

(Additional reporting by Ben Paviour)

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