Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd R) and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidth (R) greet delegates during a meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers in Siem Reap yesterday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
ASEAN needs to seek more funds from development partners to develop infrastructure and connectivity in order to narrow the gap among member states, said Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting.
The Premier said strengthening the connectivity of ASEAN through physical and institutional infrastructure, and people to people connectivity, is the key to narrowing the development gap between member states and ensuring the successful integration of ASEAN.
Though the Asian Development Bank established the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, which was launched in May this year, it is still small compared to the amount needed for true development, he said.
“Although the development gap among ASEAN members has been narrowed down over the years, it is still huge. We need to expedite the implementation of the master plan on ASEAN connectivity,” he said, “We admit that the fund of around US$500 million is still very small. It cannot sufficiently respond to the great need of the ASEAN connectivity,” he said.
“Therefore, ASEAN Economic Ministers and ASEAN Finance Ministers need to take the necessary measures to attract more financing partners to increase the fund’s size, especially the ASEAN plus three partners, the East Asia Summit (plus eight), and multilateral institutions,” added the premier.
Cham Prasidh, the chair of 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meeting, told reporters after the opening that there are many initiatives and projects that have to be set in order before they can seek more funding from dialogue partners.
“We are not only seeking [more funds] from China, we are trying to find sources of development from other dialogue partners," he said.
“We are preparing the projects now and when we are ready we will seek partners to fund them. We have a lot projects for ASEAN. We will try to seek funding from all dialogue partners. We cannot say how much will be sufficient at this time.”
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]