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Cambodia to seek less donor aid

World financial crisis likely to slash foreign contributions

CAMBODIA will reduce the amount of aid requested from donors in the coming year, a government official said Tuesday, as the global financial crisis puts a pinch on the Kingdom's foreign backers.

Cambodian People's Party  lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the government would seek less than US$600 million in official direct assistance (ODA).

"Last year the government requested $602 million, but they ended up giving us more - $690 million," he said ahead of a three-day meeting between donors and the government that begins today.

Cheam Yeap said the global financial crisis could prevent countries from maintaining their normal levels of assistance.

While no country has announced plans yet to reduce its aid, the US embassy said changes at the White House could affect its contribution.  

"The global economic recession will not necessarily affect our pledge, but due to the transition of our government, we won't be able to make a specific pledge yet," US embassy spokesman John Johnson said.  

The effects of the global economic recession will be one focus of the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum, an annual event that is supposed to provide the government, civil society and donor groups with an opportunity to review key public policy issues and their financial requirements.

Today's session of the three-day meeting will concentrate  on financial reform legislation to decentralise public spending and step up the monitoring of it.  

Participants are also expected to discuss donor contributions later in the week, officials said Tuesday.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said Cambodia should also brace itself for a decline in foreign direct investment, "especially from countries in the region, like Korea, which has already begun to cut back its investment here quite a bit".  

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