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
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