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Donor 'talk fest' slammed

Donor 'talk fest' slammed

THE biannual meeting of donors and government officials is nothing more than a "talk fest that has achieved virtually nothing over the past 15 years", one rights group official said, as others agreed and cited glacial progress towards vital reforms in areas such as corruption and responsible governance that is, they claim, threatening to derail the Kingdom's overall development progress.

"We can expect the same old recycled statements from donors this year, followed by the same old promises by the government that will not be worth the paper they are printed on," Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said by email Wednesday.

At the Government Donor Coordination Committee (GDCC) meeting Tuesday, donors noted that in areas such as land rights, corruption and freedom of information, significant progress had not been forthcoming - concerns they have voiced at every similar meeting for the last decade.

In a statement similar to many released at previous meetings, development partners "urged that the four fundamental laws - relating to good governance and corruption - be submitted to the National Assembly for enactment as expeditiously as possible".

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith defended the forum Tuesday.

"These are big laws, and the government needs more time to workshop in order to stream knowledge to both civil and public servants," he said.

 But Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum Cambodia, said that it was only the political will of the government that was impeding reform.

"In my view, the level of concern from the donors has not changed between Tuesday's GDCC meeting and the ones held in previous years," he said.

Adams said donors as well as government officials bore responsibility for the lack of progress on these issues, saying they have "never acted in a truly coordinated way to put real pressure on the government to engage in necessary reforms".