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Money talks: A CG checklist

Money talks: A CG checklist

Demobilisation

A MAY 14-21 World Bank mission appraised the Cambodian Demobilization and Reintegration Project and issued an aide memoire concluding that demobilization would require a further $15 million in international pledges in order to go ahead.

According to embassy sources, the funding gap has lead to a standoff between the RGC and donors over who should finance the shortfall. The full scale demobilization of 30,000 soldiers is due to begin this month but the government is holding the process back while they seek pledges from donors.

"Donors want the government to dip into their own budget but they are refusing because then they might have to pay for a whole lot of other stuff," the source said, adding that donors are "hopeful" that the issue will be resolved in Tokyo.

The Post has obtained a draft letter from Minister of the Council of Minister Sok An to James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank, which underlines the RGC's perceived urgency of successful demobilization.

"[Demobilization] will be used to fund the social sectors and thereby help build the foundations for development and sustainable poverty reduction," Sok An's letter reads.

Mbida-Essama is confident that the shortfall will be covered soon with the only outstanding issue the "order of magnitude".

"We have other donors who have come through who want to finance the program, including Sweden, Holland, Japan", he said.

Commune elections

Recent attempts at reorganizing the National Election Committee have been widely perceived as attempts to appease donors before the Tokyo meeting.

The RGC is still seeking support to the tune of $24 million from international donors to fund next February's commune elections.

Bi-lateral agencies are yet to volunteer to fund the elections.

In pre-CG meetings ambassadors have been expressing anxiety over the potential destabilization associated with the commune election and "concern" that local authorities won't receive their funds after decentralization.

Governance

The implementation of good governance reforms remains a key priority for donors, multilateral organizations such as the IMF, ADB and World Bank as well as NGOs.

The NGO statement to the CG meeting diplomatically commends the government's year 2000 budgetary increases to the health sector (25%), education (24%), agriculture (13%) and rural development (161%) but notes the "widespread problem of disbursement and accountability of these funds".

The statement also singles out the "depoliticizing of the Supreme Council of Magistracy... [decreasing] impunity and corruption in the courts...[and developing] a national program to build capacity of judges and prosecutors" as among the more significant governance issues yet to be successfully addressed by the RGC.

While the multilateral organizations are moving towards stricter conditionality in relation to governance reforms, Chea Vannath suggests it may be a counter-productive approach.

"Conditionality never works. If conditionality goes hand in hand with technical assistance then it's ok... but conditionality alone won't work," she said.

"Sometimes because donors put conditions on the government they just try to make the due date and overlook the useful steps to implement it."

A key governance issue has been the appointment of an Auditor General to the National Audit Authority.

"The information we have is that they've found another suitable, quote unquote, candidate... [and] we have been informed that very soon a new name will be submitted to the National Assembly", said Mbida-Essama.

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