Business has been encouraged to have more input into the allocation of donor money spent on projects aiming to boost trade in the Kingdom.
Speaking during a panel discussion yesterday at a conference on government-private sector partnership, representatives from both government and development agencies said the industry bodies should work more closely with government to influence the design of donor funded projects and the private sector are welcome to approach development banks for funding requirements of their own.
Pen Sovicheat, director of Domestic Trade at the Ministry of Commerce, urged industry heads to review the governments trade integration strategy and identify different sectors where business is aligned and can offer support.
“There are sectors that need to be improved, if your proposal falls under any of these categories, or those sectors – it’s three pillars anyway: infrastructure, product add services, capacity building – those types of things, you can request funding from,” he said.
Sovicheat said the application for donor funding was not an easy task, but encouraged businesses to work more closely with government in the decision making process.
“Please come together so we can see the possibly that the government can take and also help the government to identify what you need,” he said.
‘Because we do not know from your side, what is happening in the next few years with your own business plans.”
Jan Hansen, senior country economist of Asian Development Bank, said that donor funding has to be linked to rural development, which meant it was not appropriate for all industries, but encouraged business to have a look at the ADB-backed project pipeline.
“What would be helpful is to look at the strategic part, or the priorities of the [project planning],” he said. “What is in the pipeline? And what are the future projects that are still in the making? They can still be designed in that sense, by what is desired by private sector actors.”
Hansen added that the private sector could submit proposals directly to the ADB, and they would be assessed on how well they aligned to the banks strategy.
Development agencies are not restricted funding through governments, said Enrique Aldaz-Carroll, senior country economist of the World Bank.
“[But] these funds of course are being paid by tax payers in other countries, so they want those funds to go with fiduciary control.”
The private sector could benefit otherwise, without direct funding Aldaz-Carroll added, encouraging businesses to support with industry data to help shape donor-backed projects.
But not everyone was convinced.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia chairman Van Sou Ieng, said that it was far too difficult for business to gain access to donor funding.
“The news about funding is nothing new, I have questioned about how to get it for a long time, but there is no answer,” he said. “The process is more complicated than the Chinese language.”
Sou Ieng, said business could help access donor money that other countries were getting ahead of Cambodia.
“We need clear guidelines on how to be able to get those funding to use.”