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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM lashes out at developed world, donors over crisis

PM lashes out at developed world, donors over crisis

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090206_13.jpg

Hun Sen blames corruption and mismanagement in developed world for current global downturn at forum aimed at addressing economic problems

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks Thursday at the Third Cambodia Economic Forum in Phnom Penh.

HUN SEN lambasted Western countries Thursday  for the economic crisis, blaming them for corruption and mismanagement at an economic conference in Phnom Penh.

"Rich countries are only blaming poor countries for corruption - they never blame one another," he said at the Third Cambodia Economic Forum at Raffles Le Royal hotel.

Donor organisations were not spared from the attacks, with Hun Sen singling out the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for making the crisis worse.

"Powerful nations no longer have the right to advise small countries," he said.

He announced a series of measures to cut wasteful spending and provide additional funding to support the local economy.

"We won't spend money buying cars for government officials," said Hun Sen

Among the cost-cutting measures was a 50 percent  cut in fuel spending for government cars in line with lower petroleum prices.

Rich countries are only blaming poor countries for

corruption.

"We are changing our policy. Before we approved US$7.5 million for each ministry to buy gasoline, but now we will provide only $3.75 million," said Hun Sen.
He said that cutting government waste would be a key part of the 2009 budget.

"We cannot just spend. If the prime minister does not manage the budget, the economy will be dead."

Slowdown coming

Development organisations recommended a range of reforms and crisis-fighting measures.

World Bank Country Manager Quimiao Fan warned that the slower economic growth in 2008 was "just a warning" before an even sharper downturn for 2009.

He pressed for deeper regional integration, better management of natural resources and more infrastructure investment.

"Cambodia should look to neighbouring markets in Asia, where the contraction may be less pronounced," he said.

ADB Country Director Arjun Goswami highlighted increased poverty as a side effect of the crisis, saying about two million people in the Kingdom were close to the poverty line.

"This new external shock will sharply curtail, at least over the next two or three years, three of the four Cambodian sources of growth: garment exports, tourism and construction," he said.

Hun Sen rejected opposition demands for a $500 million stimulus package.

"That request is not logical - it is opposition logic," he said. Opposition lawmakers were barred from the event.

UN Development Program Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said Cambodia has achieved remarkable economic growth, but that wealth had not trickled down.

"We are grateful for the substantial gains made toward sour shared goal of reducing poverty.... Clearly we want to see those gains preserved, while protecting the most vulnerable 1.8 million Cambodians from the combined effects of poverty and this continuing crisis," he said.

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