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World Bank chief economist visits


In Channy greets Justin Yifu Lin. Supplied

THE chief economist and senior vice president of World Bank, Justin Yifu Lin, began a three-day fact-finding mission in Cambodia yesterday.

The visit from one of the organisation’s top global officials was billed as a chance to learn about the Kingdom’s development and its challenges as part of a regional visit, according to Bou Saroeun, communications specialist at World Bank-Cambodia.

During the first day of the mission, Justin Yifu Lin met with ACLEDA Bank’s top management to discover more about the progress of the bank and the finance sector as a whole in Cambodia.

He was taken to the bank’s Monivong Boulevard headquarters by a motorcade, reportedly provided by the government, with sirens blaring. The delegation was accompanied Hang Chuon Naron, secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who represented the government.

“His visit to our bank was to learn of our successful experiences in order to share them with other institutions in other countries,” ACLEDA President and Chief Executive Officer In Channy told reporters after the meeting.

In Channy said he told Justin Yifu Lin that ACLEDA’s lending had steadily grown in the last six years, from US$65 million in 2004 to $538 million last year.

It was expected to hit $632 million at the end of July this year, with 70 percent of the loans lent to rural borrowers, he said. The bank’s total assets reached $1.06 billion at the end of August.

“The banking sector has shown good signs of recovery this year as the economy has also gradually recovered,” In Channy said.

“Agriculture is one of the main sectors contributing to the growth in our bank,” he also told the economist.

“We trust in the agriculture sector and have increased our lending to it in the last few years. There is a broader market for agricultural produce due to the development of processing plants, especially rice mills and effective insect curbs.”

ACLEDA lent $3.6 million to the agricultural sector in 2004, and increased the amount to $85 million last year and $99 million at the end of July.

During the three-day visit, Justin Yifu Lin is scheduled to meet with senior government officials, representatives from the private sector, and development partners. Yesterday, he also visited a rice mill in Odong.

Justin Yifu Lin was born in Taiwan in 1952 and has a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

He is also a former vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. He was appointed to his role at the World Bank in March 2008.

The government has forecast that GDP will rise 5 percent this year thanks to growth in the agriculture, tourism and garments. All sectors expect growth, with the exception of construction, which needs time to recover.

The World Bank has forecast GDP growth of 4.4 percent for 2010 and expects a 6 percent increase in 2011.

Stephane Guimbert, senior country economist at the World Bank-Cambodia, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Hang Chuon Naron was also unavailable.

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