Cambodia has received $140 million in loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to boost labour development to transform the country into a technology-driven, knowledge-based industrial economy while enhancing public service delivery by local administrations through public finance and decentralisation reforms.

The loan agreement was signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth and ADB country director for Cambodia Jyotsana Varma in Phnom Penh on September 26, the ADB said in a statement.

“Under the Skills for the Future Economy Sector Development Programme, the multilateral development bank lends Cambodia $100 million [$20 million policy-based loan and $80 million investment project] to help transform the country into a technology-driven, knowledge-based industrial economy,” it mentioned.

The support has enabled the government to introduce key policy reforms that are critical to overcoming skills development barriers that hinder competitiveness. It would also enhance the country’s skills development ecosystem, promote industry-led inclusive training for upskilling and reskilling workers in priority areas, and expand financing from the private sector through a cost-sharing, demand-based training model under a skills development fund that the government has successfully piloted.

“ADB is pleased to partner with Cambodia in advancing industry-led skills development that readies the country’s labour force, especially women, for the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and in aligning local government planning with national and provincial budgets to achieve more effective and equitable public service delivery,” said Varma. “The two programmes these loans support would drive Cambodia’s efforts to advance growth, employment, equity, efficiency and sustainability nationwide.”

As for the Decentralised Public Service and Financial Management Sector Development Programme, ADB is providing $40 million to Cambodia, as budget financing, to promote decentralisation reforms in the country.

ADB stressed that the loan would help strengthen the role and capacity of local administrations to effectively deliver public services with a focus on improving coordination for responsive and accountable service delivery. Measures undertaken under the program will also boost women’s participation in local decision-making.

“The government has completed reforms under the programme to strengthen planning and budgeting, revenue and expenditure management, and the capacity of staff at the local administration level integral to ensuring service delivery. These reforms are also aligned to climate change objectives, given that sub-national administrations are often the frontline service providers for effective disaster response at the local level,” it said.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the agreement emphasises the cooperation, support and the trust by ADB on the government as the programme respond effectively towards the Pentagonal Strategy.

Minister Pornmoniroth recalled that ADB’s funding cooperation which totals $4.9 billion. Of that, concessional loans amounted to $4.4 billion for the implementation of 137 projects and programmes and some $568 million as grant for the implementation of 70 projects.