Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Adjustment rationale



Adjustment rationale

Adjustment rationale

The Editor,

R eading Matthew Grainger's coverage of the Structural Adjustment Programme roundtable

(Post, Feb 22, 1996) leaves one with the impression of lassitude among conference

participants for such reform in this country. The author has captured loud and clear

the skepticism of overseas speakers, but fails to consider the rationale that has

led the Royal Government to embrace so-called orthodox policies in the first place.

The crux of Cambodia structural reform in the past three years has been to find lasting

improvement to the way the government operates. It is about re-asserting government

control on the national budget. It is about official waste, and how to deal with

its attendant social inequity. It is not about reducing government control in economic

life. It is not about "more" versus "less" market, if such debate

has ever taken place in Cambodia.

Passing tourists who pride themselves for being socially aware, will not fail to

see that the apparatus of central administration is anything but a paragon of efficiency

or probity. To anyone who has had the briefest encounter with Cambodia's state bureaucracy,

the need for "orthodox" reform would seem self evident. Many would indeed

regard "state service" in this country as a painful contradiction in terms.

The level of pay does not explain why Cambodia's taxpayers are apparently saddled

with more than a fair number of the mediocre or the indolent. It certainly does not

justify the use of state-owned cars for Sunday family outings. If an "alternative"

budget could have been drawn up that will allow such state largesse to go on unchecked,

the now defunct State of Cambodia would have dearly loved to hear about it.

Strangely enough, the issue of Cambodia's long-term dependency on external assistance,

did not receive the kind of attention it deserves.

It highlights the country's openness to outside pressure just as much as it should

also bolster the Royal Government's determination to review unproductive spending.

- Ung Bunleng, Phnom Penh

(The author is a staff member of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, currently

seconded to the National Bank of Cambodia. The views expressed are his own and not

of those institutions he is associated with.)

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Woman seeks answers after arrest of American partner

    Filipina Lalaine de Guzman, 48, is demanding answers for the detention of her American partner by Cambodian immigration officers after he was arrested at their home almost 90 days ago. She said without an arrest warrant or proffering any criminal charges, Stephen Sidney Greatsinger, 56, is being detained

  • ‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

    A group of former and current Cambodian diplomats on Tuesday fired back at retired Singaporean diplomat Bihalari Kausikan after he proposed that ASEAN dismiss Cambodia and Laos from the bloc. In an open letter, the Cambodian diplomats said Kausikan’s remarks were made from a

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital