Cambodia could borrow US$1.1 billion from other countries in 2012, 75 per cent more than this year, to help repair infrastructure damaged in flooding and support efforts to increase rice exports to one million tonnes by 2015, a senior official said yesterday.
Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Finance Commission, said the borrowing, which has to be approved by parliament, would come in the form of concessionary, 40-year loans at low interest rates.
He declined to say which countries might offer the loans but said that of Cambodian’s current debt of around $8 billion, some $6 billion was owed to its closest ally, China. Another $1.5 billion is owed to Russia and $317 million to the United States, he added.
Cheam Yeap said the draft 2012 budget, which also has to go before parliament, includes provisions for new spending of $2.69 billion, up from $2.4 billion this year.
As part of efforts to generate more revenue, the government in the poor Southeast Asian country intends to impose a tax on real estate and is looking at plans to start issuing bonds.
Cambodia is forecast to export 180,000 tonnes of rice in 2011, more than three times last year’s volume.
Experts previously had called for an increase in spending in the coming 2012 budget to assist in flood recovery.
Past national budgets had underspent on allocations to the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Resources, Chea Kimsong, manager of the development issues program at the NGO Forum, told the Post last month.
“What I hope is that when the budget for 2012 [is finalised], there will at least be an increase above the average increase in these areas,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REUTERS