Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said while Cambodia’s primary source for loans and other assistance in road infrastructure construction was China, this did not indicate favouritism but timely access to funds.
Fielding questions from the public at the MPWT Live Show on August 30, the minister said China was the first country to provide funds of nearly $3 billion for road infrastructure construction. These loans were indispensable and came when Cambodia needed the financing.
Despite China providing the lion’s share of loans, Chanthol said Cambodia did not discriminate in terms of funding from other countries and development partners. The government, he said, would work with any party wishing to assist Cambodia in development.
“If any country wants to assist, we are receptive. We have never denied that we do not need funding from other countries. I want to make this clear because there have been allegations that Cambodia depends on China too much,” he said.
Chanthol added that loans were provided to Cambodia when the country needed to build roads and bridges. Cambodia could get financing from China without delay, while loans from some countries need to be studied for many years.
“If we wait for five years for a loan to build a road or bridge, we lose a lot financially. We lose income from construction, and our economy won’t grow quickly enough,” he said.
Chanthol continued that in terms of financing, China ranked number one, followed by Japan and South Korea. The World Bank and Asia Development Bank had also provided Cambodia with loans for infrastructure.
Kong Sovann, a public health specialist and director of the International Safety Fund Programme, said Cambodia needs partners to help develop the country, especially road infrastructure. This infrastructure is the life blood of a nation and diversified roads will assist the country to grow through transportation benefits.
Sovann wanted to see lending countries or development partners consider how to make it easier to provide loans quickly to help developing countries like Cambodia.
“We should discuss how to make something happen together, both Cambodia and lending countries or development partners, because this is a mechanism in helping developing nations, and Cambodia needs to develop and make the economy run smoothly,” he said.