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ADB's use of consultants

ADB's use of consultants

The Editor,

In the article "Time to Put the Brakes on the Gravy Train"

(PPP August 30), Brad Adams criticizes the use of international consultants by

the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the proposed Tonle Sap Environmental

Management Project.

The Project, which is before ADB's Board of

Directors for approval, is the first in a series of initiatives planned to

promote the sustainable management and conservation of natural resources and

biodiversity in the Tonle Sap basin. ADB would provide support to the Government

in the form of a concessional loan from our Special Funds resources and a

technical assistance grant. An important point Mr Adams does not address is that

the concessional loan will comprise a 65% grant element. The loan will have a

term of 32 years, including a grace period of eight years with an interest

charge of 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per annum thereafter.

Project implementation involves mainly the engagement of consulting

services, most of which will be carried out by domestic consultants. In

instances where Cambodians cannot be identified to provide certain professional

services and specialized knowledge, ADB will employ international experts, who

in the course of implementing the Project, will transfer skills to the Cambodian

people. It is estimated that the Project will require 1,402 person months of

domestic consulting services, and 271 person-months of international consulting

services, covering fisheries, natural resource management, environmental

education, community organization and other areas.

Mr. Adams asserts that

the salaries paid to international consultants are too high. Admittedly,

securing high quality consulting services in very specialized areas of expertise

can be expensive. However, ADB is also acutely sensitive to the project

expenditures, and has recently introduced cost as a significant element in the

evaluation of bids for consulting services. In contract negotiations for all of

its projects, ADB requires consultants to show that the rate under negotiation

is market-based in the form of recent contracts signed between the consultant

and other development institutions.

- Ann Quon, Director, Office of External Relations, Asian Development

Bank

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