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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The European Union - Where the money goes

The European Union - Where the money goes

T HE European Union will have spent $145 million in Cambodia between 1991-97.

"Such a figure can stun those who consider the EU would be best to

concentrate this sum on European problems," says EU Ambassador Gwyn

Morgan.

"But for every hundred thousand ECUs [European currency units]

spent in Cambodia, you can talk about a billion ECUs spent in eastern Europe.

There is no comparison."

He adds: "The reason why we are in Cambodia is

that we want to encourage stability and democracy in this area, which is a major

area of interest for Europe."

Asked whether the EU's aid would continue

if democracy in Cambodia was threatened, Morgan replies tersely: "Cooperation to

Cambodia is based on certain principles, which the Cambodian government

understands and we understand."

In a previous interview with the Post in

March last year, Morgan was adamant that the EU's money came with no strings

attached. He said the EU's main concern was that "the government, whatever its

pattern of governance, is capable of using our funds constructively and

positively."

After spending around $58 million between 1991-94, the EU

unveiled its $87 million PERC program. Begun last July, it is due to end in

September 1996.

The biggest element of the PERC is a $48 million rural

development program in Takeo, Prey Veng, Kompong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham

and Kompong Chhnang.

"These are particularly poor provinces, while half

of the Cambodian population lives in this area," says an EU technical expert,

who asked not to be named.

"The provinces require above all a first jolt.

Hence the European Union has a very short-term program which is not a

traditional development one. It may be extended with a second, longer

program."

The rural development program includes such things as

irrigation networks, agricultural training, cottage industries and a major

credit scheme.

The next largest part of the PERC is a $17 million

national primary education program.

"It is a program of urgency. We want

to help the government to face a critical situation," says EU expert Gerard

Renou.

The program will center on improving the materials and quality of

teaching given to primary students, and the training of their teachers via a

correspondence course.

Renou believes the program can achieve much, but

sees two drawbacks to it.

"First, it does not include the whole normal

basic school cycle - the second half [high school] is forgotten.

"Then,

there is nothing for the walls... We help both pupils and teachers, but we do

not build new schools."

Morgan says: "We do not have the money to do

everything at once."

The EU is not carrying out the two programs itself.

For the rural development program, three "bureau d'études" (private societies) -

from France, England and Holland - won tenders to implement it.

Each

society is in charge of two of the six provinces, providing their own experts to

monitor workers, or contracting projects to NGOs or international

agencies.

The education program is being run by nine experts from a

French public organization, the International Center for Educational Studies,

sub-contracted by the EU.

The EU has also budgeted $8 million for

institutional support, providing experts by request to government ministries.

One is currently in the Foreign Affairs ministry, and ten more for other

ministries are expected to arrive in Cambodia soon.

The EU is also

spending $12 million on rehabilitation activities in other sectors, and $2

million on promoting human rights.

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