D ESPITE international donors' insistence that the Paris ICORC meeting is not a
pledging conference the Cambodian government is warning it needs $295 million to
meet its 1995 budget requirements.
Human rights and corruption may be the
priorities of Western countries, but without the cash, Cambodia says it priority
of eliminating poverty and hunger won't be met.
requirement for this year is about $540 million. So far, donations and
government revenues add up to slightly more than $240 million - leaving a huge
shortfall, said a government spokesman.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon's
95-page presentation to the March 13-15 International Committee on the
Reconstruction of Cambodia (ICORC) meeting says: "The government's primary
objective is to improve the well-being of the population and to provide it fair
opportunities to succeed in an atmosphere of peace and trust."
decades of the kind of turmoil that racked the country, no concerned Government
could offer any less."
In addition, Cambodia will ask for four items
of emergency aid to:
- address the food/rice crisis which was aggravated by the drought and floods
of late 1994;
- accelerate demining activities;
- provide for the urgent need to tackle communicable and preventable disease;
- integrate internally-displaced people and Khmer Rouge defectors into the
private, civilian economy.
The report reminds donors "the Royal Government assumed office only in
November 1993, thus it is not quite 16 months since the government became the
manager of its own development.
"This is not long, particularly when one
considers the magnitude of the problems and issues to be addressed: transforming
an entire government administration to ensure good governance, establishing a
legal base and the means to enforce it, rebuilding a devastated infrastructure,
recreating health and education facilities, containing armed insurgency and
bandits, rekindling personal trust and social cohesion, consolidating
macroeconomic stability and growth, alleviating poverty, and eliminating
"Tackling any one of these would be difficult enough, tackling
all of them simultaneously is positively daunting," states the report.
a press conference March 4, the finance minister said the government will tell
the ICORC its economic health is good.
Chhon said the government has
broadened its revenue base, drawing funds from taxes, customs and investments.
As for international concerns about human rights and press freedom "we
have almost completely accomplished what the international communities
Responding to questions about corruption, he said: "What I feel
ashamed about is that this country has to solve the problem itself. We have to
clean our house by ourselves," adding it would soon be dealt with.
presentation to donors, the government directly addresses international concerns
about safety and security in Cambodia.
"The government is well aware of
its responsibilities for the security of those people involved in international
assistance projects, as well as for the security of the population at
"It is also well aware of the concerns of the international
community on this score and of the fact that security problems have delayed the
implementation of certain projects."
"It has to be recognized that it is
virtually impossible to eliminate the perverse activities of armed bandits,
although the Royal Government is actively exploring ways and means to contain
them and to improve security in outlying project locations."
presentation to donors, the government says its priorities include: balancing
loan and grant assistance; broadening umbrella agreements and improving its
ability to absorb aid through staff training and better organization.
addition, the government plans to review commodity aid and budget support
programs and encourage the greater use of Cambodian talent - including