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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt to request nearly $3b on infrastructure projects

Govt to request nearly $3b on infrastructure projects

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090304_13.jpg

Investment planned from 2010 to 2012 represents sharp increase on money spent on development in previous years

Photo by:

TRACEY SHELTON

A building site in Phnom Penh. The government is planning to significantly increase spending on the construction of public infrastructure over the next three years.

Project 2010-2012

Next three years of investment spending set to increase on recent injection of capital:

  • Double spending in 2009 compared with last year’s $500 million investment
  • $2.8 billion planned for the next three years on transport, irrigation and other public works
  • Government to invest half the total capital, the other half to come from backers

    Source: Ministry of Planning

OFFICIALS are seeking approval to spend US$2.8 billion on public investment between 2010 and 2012, Minister of Planning Chhay Than told the Post this week.

His comments came five days after Finance Minister Keat Chhon said the government would spend $1 billion on public investment in 2009, doubling the total spent in 2008. That money, Keat Chhon said, would be spent primarily on transportation, public infrastructure and irrigation projects.

Chhay Than said the money for 2010-12 would be allocated to similar projects, which he said would create a friendlier environment for small businesses.

"We have included 539 projects in our public investment program, and we hope that all projects can be carried out," Chhay Than said. Of those, he said, 60 percent are to be implemented in rural areas.

Chhay Than said he expected the spending plan to be approved by the Council of Ministers on March 5.

The year-by-year breakdown of the plan is as follows: $920 million for public investment in 2010, $930 million in 2011 and $950 million in 2012. Of the $2.8 billion total, about half will come from the government and half from development partners, Chhay Than said.

It will not be a problem for the government to find $3b for three years.

Theng Panhathun, a ministry official who works on public investment projects, said the government tends to spend less than it plans to because some projects cannot be carried out on schedule.

"From 2006 to 2008, the government had planned to spend a total amount of $1.95 billion on public investment, but the real expenditure was only $1.86 billion," Theng Panhathun said.

Keeping projects small

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (Cedac), said the government should spend more money on small-scale development projects in rural communities than on the type of large-scale projects it has favoured in the past.

"The government must invest its capital in training farmers all over the country in techniques for growing rice and maintaining small-scale irrigation systems, which are the core of economic growth," Yang Saing Koma said.

"I think it will not be a problem for the government to find $3 billion for three years because it has a lot of development partners, and the international community supports it."

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