The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $40 million policy-based loan to support government efforts to enhance public service delivery by local administrations through a series of reforms in public finance and decentralisation.

A July 26 ADB press release stated that the loan, the second and last subprogramme loan under the Second Decentralised Public Service and Financial Management Sector Development Programme, will enable a series of reforms to strengthen the role and capacity of local administrations to effectively deliver public services.

“The reforms are designed to strengthen planning and budgeting, revenue and expenditure management, and the capacities of staff at the local administration level to deliver improved services, bolster local government planning, and improve people’s access to public services,” it said.

ADB has partnered with the government to support reforms in public finance management and decentralisation since 2002, with an emphasis on pursuing policies to deepen both administrative and fiscal decentralisation measures for improved service delivery, local economic development and poverty reduction, it added.

“The ADB has helped to establish a one-stop shop for more responsive services to the people, as well as ombudsperson offices, to monitor the improvement in depth and quality. It is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty,” it continued.

ADB country director Jyotsana Varma expressed her hopes that the reforms and digital solutions implemented under the programme will help align local plans with national and provincial budgets for a more effective and equitable delivery of basic public services like access to water, sanitation and education.

“Measures undertaken under the programme will also boost women’s participation in local decision-making. This new programme loan is in line with ADB’s country partnership strategy for Cambodia for 2019-2023,” she said.

San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that providing basic services to the people was crucial to fulfilling their needs. He urged people in remote areas to respond to service providers.

Chey added that with the additional loan, the government should be able to launch more initiatives and establish improved communication between people and service providers at the village level.

“We want to expand this, especially in communes where the administration systems cover many villages. We are still hearing from people who say they have to travel long distances to access public services at the commune hall,” he said.