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ADB loans target rural stimulus

ADB loans target rural stimulus

Deals signed include funds for financial intelligence unit.

Siem Reap
DEVELOPMENT projects worth more than US$90 million are set to give Cambodia’s economy a boost following a loan agreement signed by the government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Siem Reap late Sunday.

Minister of Finance Keat Chhon approved the deal, which will see the establishment of three projects partly funded by $65 million in ADB loans and grants.

The schemes include a $55.3 million poverty-reduction and smallholder development project, first announced in December, to help 2.5 million rural people from Kampong Cham, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces.

The ADB is also providing $30.7 million in loans and grants to improve agricultural productivity. The International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD) and the government of Finland are to contribute a combined $19.1 million, and the Cambodian government is to put $5.47 million towards the project.

Another $24.5 million ADB grant is to go towards a $27.52 million vocational and technical training project to address the country’s shortage of skilled workers by training the rural unemployed and laid-off garment factory workers.

An additional $10 million ADB loan will promote economic growth and enable Cambodia to be more resilient in the face of world crises. The project includes setting up a financial intelligence unit in the National Bank of Cambodia to combat money laundering.

Keat Chhon said the three agreements were not only crucial in improving the livelihoods of the poor around the Tonle Sap basin, but also for strengthening Cambodia’s market-based financial system and private sector – which he said was the engine of economic growth.

“These three projects will help Cambodia to better respond to the global financial crisis,” ADB country director Putu Kamayana said at a press conference. “We hope that by boosting the income of poor families in rural areas, parents will be able to send their kids to school rather than having them work to supplement their family incomes.”

The bank’s new investment in Cambodia comes as Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated a newly paved 150-kilometre road between Siem Reap and Poipet on the Thai border Monday.

It is hoped the new highway will boost tourism and trade ties with Thailand.

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