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ADB set to provide $1.45B to aid growth

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Farmers gathers rice grains for sale after harvest season in Battambang province. Under the 2019-2023 strategy, the ADB will also provide loans, grants and technical assistance for agriculture and natural resources management. Heng Chivoan

ADB set to provide $1.45B to aid growth

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced that it will provide $1.45 billion to support a new five-year country partnership strategy (CPS) and help the Kingdom achieve its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030, it said on Friday.

Under the 2019-2023 strategy, the ADB will provide loans, grants and technical assistance for agriculture and natural resources management; improved urban and rural living conditions; renewable energy infrastructure; and education and skills development, the bank said.

It said supporting public sector reforms and improving institutional capacity will remain at the core of its programme. The initiatives aim to improve access to and the quality of services for Cambodians, as well as the business environment.

“Our new country partnership strategy will support the Cambodian government’s goals of increasing competitiveness and diversifying the sources of growth.

“[It will] foster sustainable and inclusive development, build climate resilience and accelerate governance reforms,” said ADB country director for Cambodia SunniyaDurrani-Jamal.

Cambodia’s economy expanded eight per cent on average from 1999-2018, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. Gross national income per capita rose from $290 in 1998 to $1,380 last year, the ADB said.

However, challenges remain, including poverty among women-headed households – making them especially vulnerable to unsafe jobs.

The Kingdom’s social protection is limited and gains in health, education, and other human development aspects remain fragile while access to sanitation remains below the average for lower-middle-income countries, it said.

Cambodia, it said, also faces an uncertain global trading environment and increased competition in the region.

“Efforts to diversify the economy into services and manufacturing have been constrained by a lack of skilled workers, gaps in energy infrastructure and logistics, and opaque business processes.”

Durrani-Jamal said the CPS will help create better job opportunities for Cambodians by investing in their education, skills and lifelong learning.

“[It will provide for] Cambodia’s young population. Expanding the use of digital technologies and capitalising on innovations lies at the heart of our country partnership strategy.

“Enhancing women’s potential and leadership, particularly in the public sector, and protecting Cambodia’s vast natural resources are crucial to the next phase of the country’s development,” she said.

A draft of the 2020 national budget which was approved by the Council of Ministers on Friday says the government plans to borrow an additional 1.4 billion through Special Drawing Rights (SDR), or $1.927 billion, from developing partners.

The government will sign on 29 development projects among a total of 32 proposals, which will borrow from the World Bank, the ADB, German state-owned development bank KfW, and Chinese, Japanese and South Korean governments.

As of the end of the first half of this year, the Kingdom’s total external public debt stands at $7.264 billion, of which 28.2 per cent is from multi-partner funds and 48.8 per cent from the Chinese government.

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