Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - What 'technical assistance' means

What 'technical assistance' means

What 'technical assistance' means

How does technical assistance soak up so much of the aid to Cambodia? A look at a

typical project offers some insight.

In July 2000 the ADB and World Bank agreed to fund the rehabilitation of approximately

600 kilometers of Routes 5, 6, and 7.

In July 2000 the Ministry of Public Works and Transport negotiated a contract with

Australian companies called "SMEC International Pty Ltd" and "Worley

International Ltd" to carry out the work.

This is undoubtedly a worthy project, and if the roads don't collapse as the result

of corruption in the building process, then Cambodians will undoubtedly be grateful.

In fact, this is why a foreign company was brought in.

But take a look at the amount spent on foreign consultants. In addition to the other

costs of the project, "consulting services" for this project totaled $4,697,790.

That's $782.95 per kilometer.

How much did the foreigners working on the project receive? According to the minutes

of the negotiations (Australian dollars have been converted to US dollars at the

rate of US$ 0.60, the approximate rate in July 2000), the monthly salaries ranged

from $4,272 per month for one Mr. Maher, "Resident Engineer 4," to $10,800

per month for a BME Specialist, Mr. Teese, and $14,044 per month for Mr. Collins,

a UXO specialist.

But this was just the beginning. Each short-term consultant received a per diem of

$90, or $2,700 per month. Each long-term consultant received a $1,500 housing allowance,

which added up to $261,000 for the project.

The long-termers also received a one-month "settling-in allowance" of $90

per day, or another $2,700 (presumably to buy items like light bulbs and toilet paper

- we all know how expensive it is to buy these items in Phnom Penh).

And to make sure that all could keep in touch with loved ones at home, each received

a $498 "communications allowance" per month. This item alone was approximately

twice the annual per capita income of the average Cambodian.

SMEC and Worley didn't do too poorly out of this arrangement, either. The agreement

allowed (Item 3.2) for "Social Charge Multipliers of 37% (SMEC) and 54.31% (Worley),"

along with "Overhead Multipliers of 123.87% (SMEC) and 106.55% (Worley)."

These funds, along with other opaque costs ("fees" and "overhead allowances"),

went into the company's coffers to cover costs and as profit. One needn't be a road

engineer or BME specialist (whatever that is) to figure out that this was a lucrative

deal for two companies in Australia.

These additional fees meant that the costs of each consultant shot up. For example,

Maher's salary of $4,272 ended up costing Cambodians $13,243 per month.

Typical of this contract is the disparate ways that foreigners and Cambodians are

treated. The budget allowed for 600 days of "out-of-station allowances"

at $40 per day for expatriate staff. But the contract then went on to say that, "it

was agreed that the meal allowance for Local Consultants is included in the local

consultants remuneration."

Local consultants was another way of saying "Cambodians". Apparently they

never considered giving Cambodians, whose salaries were a fraction of their expat

colleagues, even $10 per day while away from home. But this would have necessitated

a cut in the expat communications allowance from $498 per month to $488.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all