INTERNATIONAL development assistance to Cambodia is expected to top US$2.8 billion for the three years ending 2012, according to indicative financing estimates released during government-donor meetings in the capital last week.
According to a copy of the estimates obtained by the Post, the figure includes the $1.1 billion in pledges announced at the close of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum (CDCF) on Thursday, in addition to indicative financing totalling $958 million for 2011 and $750.5 million for 2012.
But observers say the figures do not necessarily point to a decline in aid payments, and that the indications could rise if new donor-funded projects come online over the next two years.
“The indicative financing for 2011 and 2012 could increase a little because donors require some time to confirm their commitments with their respective governments,” said Sin Somuny, executive director of Medicam, an umbrella organisation for health-sector NGOs.
Hady Riad, a councillor at the German embassy, said Germany’s indicative aid figures, which show a decrease from $65.6 million this year to $50.5 million in 2011 and $27 million in 2012, consisted of disbursals for pre-existing aid projects and would be subject to change. “These figures are not to be equated with any new commitments,” he said.
German development assistance spiked in 2010 because of some projects that have had a “long period of implementation”, he said. He added that Berlin would undertake its biannual assessment of projects in Cambodia next year, and that the approval of new projects could potentially boost indications.
Masafumi Kuroki, Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia, said the 2011-12 figures indicated “an overall trend” of donor support for the government, but that his country’s aid figures would also likely be revised. Japan has indicated it will maintain its level of development assistance at $131.8 million each year from 2010-12.
“Our intention is to maintain almost the same level of assistance for the coming years, but it may increase or decrease,” Kuroki said.
The list of aid figures also gives a breakdown of the record $1.1 billion pledged by donors last week. Japan continues to be the country’s largest bilateral donor, pledging $131.8 million for 2010, followed by China ($100.2 million), the US ($68.5 million) and Australia ($61 million).
UN agencies will shell out $86.8 million for 2010, while the World Bank will contribute $122.7 million, the Asian Development Bank $153.8 million and the Global Fund $75.8 million. The figures also show South Korea pledging $26.8 million in aid for this year, a figure that is indicated to rise to $69.4 million in 2012.
This year’s record $1.1 billion aid pledge was an unprecedented signal of strong donor support for Cambodia, but some civil society activists have argued that development partners have done little to pressure the government to meet good governance benchmarks in exchange for aid.
At the close of the CDCF meeting Thursday, Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon praised the support of the donor community, saying the funds would help support the government’s National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) update for 2009-13, which will require around $1 billion in external funding annually for its five-year duration.
Sin Somuny from Medicam said that the aid slated for the next three years would benefit the country, but that there needs to be improvements in aid effectiveness.
“The country needs this money for development,” he said. “The question is, how do we improve accountability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness?”